Houston Astros: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not (Vol 4)

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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Alex Bregman, bullpen, Houston Astros
Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports /

Who’s Not

Alex Bregman

The obvious answer to this would be Yordan Alvarez, but I thought it would be interesting to look at the recent struggles of Alex Bregman.

Over the last two weeks, Bregman is 9 – 48 (.188) with an OPS south of .700 to go along with only one home run and five RBIs – very un-Bregman like. During this time his batting average has dropped from .319 to just above .286.

Bregman’s recent struggles might be linked to who is faced. Bregman has historically been better against left-handed pitchers, and other than Snell, Ryu and Kershaw, he’s seen mostly righties. The other element of is just might be bad luck – Bregman still is in the top 95th percentile in both foul rate and contact. He still doesn’t chase much out of the strike zone, so it’s hard to understand why he’s in such a slump at the moment.

One thing keep eye on is his struggle with the fastball. He’s typically amongst the best in the game at hitting the fastball, with his compact backswing and his ability to barrel the ball. But this year he’s only hitting .256 against the fastball (career average .301) and has been getting beat with speed high in the strike zone.

Bregman has said it himself he’s not swinging the bat very well, but these could just be the normal ebbs and flows of momentum each hitter deals with during a baseball season. Bregman has shown his ability to figure things out quick, adjust, and improve upon them. Expect him to start raking up hits again soon.

The Bullpen

Okay. This pains me. This really does pain me, but let’s do this.

Except for Ryne Stanek, (surprisingly) Brandon Bielak, Cristian Javier and Blake Taylor (welcome back), this Astros bullpen has been an absolute dumpster fire lately. The Astros pen gave up multiple leads during their recent homestand, including a five-run lead to the San Diego Padres that resulted in a Fernando Tatis Jr. backbreaking home run in the ninth.

I don’t think it’s fair to pick one person who’s struggling from this bullpen since they’ve collectively been bad, so I’m gonna go over each as an entire unit.

  • Andre Scrubb – posted a 14.37 ERA in 3.2 innings, which included giving up three home runs, six walks and nearly .400 average. He was naturally sent back down to Sugar Land to figure things out.
  • Bryan Abreu – had a 10.13 ERA over a three-game stretch before landing on the IL from injuring himself talking flyballs in practice. Ouch.
  • Wily veteran Joe Smith posted an 8.10 ERA in his last four appearances, and it’s looking more and more that it was a bad idea for him professionally to skip last season.
  • Enoli Paredes, one of my favorite young new Astros to root for, has a 5.79 ERA in his last four appearances with some erratic pitches that would scare anyone in the crowd sitting behind home plate.
  • Brooks Raley, who is pitching much better than he was in April, is still posting a 5.02 ERA and a WHIP of 1.31. Just way too much traffic on the bases when he’s at the mound.
  • And Ryan Pressly, the steadiest of arms in this Astros bullpen, has fallen into a small rough patch. He’s posting a 4.79 ERA during his last five appearances with only four strikeouts, a .227 opponent batting average and was the one who gave up that huge Tatis Jr. bomb.

Thankfully, the Astros starters have all played very well, managing to go deep into the game and let this battered bullpen looks their wounds. But if the Astros want to make any noise in the second half and in the playoffs the bullpen is going to have to pick it up.

Next. Luis Garcia is making case for All-Star Game. dark

The hope is that at least one of Abreu/Scrubb/Paredes can really find some elite form again, while at the same time we see more Blake Taylor, Cristian Javier, Ryne Stanek and good Brandon Bielak.

And I imagine the return of Pedro Baez would only help. Just a thought.