Houston Astros: Trend – Who’s Hot, Who’s Not
Martin Maldonado has never been a monster at the plate (career .219 BA) but he is really struggling right now. He is currently hitting .091 with an OPS of .209, at the same time being in the bottom 5% in the league in exit velocity and strikeout rate.
Maldonado has historically been bad against breaking pitches (career .140 BA), but decent against the fastball (.234 BA). That’s not the case this year. He’s hitting .111 against the fastball and .083 vs. breaking balls. Simply put, pitchers are throwing more breaking balls at Maldonado and, at the same time, he’s not cashing in on fastballs. What’s more troubling is the fact that all three of his hits were all located in the middle of the plate– which might indicate more of a pitching mistake than “good hitting”.
He’s certainly in a deep slump. Perhaps going on the IL for some time might be good for Maldonado to give him time to regroup and fix his approach to the plate.
You honestly could pick a handful of pitchers in the Astros bullpen who haven’t been good, but let’s go with Joe Smith.
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Smith’s return to the mound after opting out of last year hasn’t gone very well– giving up eight hits and five earned runs in less than four innings of work. Smith got lit up down against the A’s and gave up the lead, then gave up two earned runs in an inning against the A’s. Last night, Smith came into the 4th inning against the Tigers and proceeded to give up two hits and a walk without recording an out. His ERA right now is at 13.50; a cringe-worthy number even though he’s only had three innings.
Hitters have been crushing his sinker and four seam fastball, two pitches that he’s usually pretty good at. Hopefully, Smith, a 13-year vet with a 3.03 ERA, can settle down and get back to his slider-sinker-fastball combo and get more outs. The Astros need him.