Houston Astros: Brandon Bielak bounces back
The Houston Astros bats might have been quiet against the Miami Marlins on Friday, but the pitchers stood out once again in this seven-inning slate. Of the most effective, Brandon Bielak went three perfect innings, after a rough opener to the Marlins last Sunday.
After the injury to Framber Valdez, the Astros are looking for depth in the rotation, while also exploring free agency. Bielak did have a rough second half in 2020, but the 24-year-old looked lights out on Friday.
While the Astros bats were silent, Brandon Bielak’s dealing could earn him a roster spot.
Although only his second appearance this spring, this turn around from Bielak is a good sign that he has found a rhythm once again. For many young pitchers, they seem to start strong until batters and club houses find their niche and exploit it; we saw this after Bielak faced the San Diego Padres in 2020.
The right-hander threw 29 strikes and only four balls while retiring 15 consecutive batters with three strikeouts, while his first start included two innings for a total of two long balls and four earned runs. Although eight pitchers are out for an unknown time, Bielak is working for a roster spot, and with his ability to start and come in relief, he will be valuable down the stretch.
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Jose Urquidy opened the game, and while giving up the only run on a home run from Brian Anderson, the right-hander went a healthy two innings with all his outs coming in play. The Astros sent out the two sidewinders for the rest of the game in Joe Smith, who hadn’t pitched since Mar. 9, 2020, and Steve Cishek, who bounced back after giving up three consecutive home runs in his last appearance. They combined for two scoreless innings with five strikeouts. Like every seven-inning game, the home team got to hit in the bottom of the inning, although winning in the top. This rule gave Cishek the chance to pitch. While not throwing any change ups this outing, the right-hander fanned three hitters.
At the plate, Myles Straw, who batted second, hit a triple to open the fourth inning. Houston would load the bases but leave the inning stranded, after scoring 14 runs the night before. It was a pretty quiet day for both teams with a combined five hits and one run.
Due to avoiding weather, the Astros’ seven-inning game tomorrow in West Palm Beach against the New York Mets is now at 12:05 p.m., but it will not be televised. Friday also came with the first B game that was played on the back fields at the facilities in West Palm Beach against the Cardinals. Prospect Zach Daniels homered off number starter Jack Flaherty; he has been identified as the number one power prospect for the Astros by MLB Pipeline. Pedro Leon also made the start at shortstop in this five-inning game.