Houston Astros Trend: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not (Vol 5)
This could easily be Michael Brantley, but I thought Myles Straw deserves some recognition. Over the past month Straw hit .317 (27-85) with six stolen bases, .857 OPS 18 runs, three doubles and even two home runs -a power surge for his standards. His ability to get hits and get on base in the eighth or ninth spot gives the top-of-the-order Astros (Altuve, Brantley, Gurriel) another baserunner for RBI opportunities, while also applying more pressure on opposing pitchers.
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Many including myself were skeptical of having Myles Straw as the everyday centerfielder to replace our beloved George Springer. Straw was primarily known as a speedster around the bases, but didn’t have much pop with his bat and was an unknown defensively.
However, after a very slow April for him at the plate, Straw has really picked up his play both at plate and in the outfield. He’s become one of the best on-base guys in the league and has gradually improved with his bat production. Straw has made the Springer departure less painful for us Astro fans, while at the same time proving to us and all other 29 teams that he’s a big-time starter in this league.
To quote Adam Sandler at the end of Billy Madison: “Boy, I’m glad (James Click) called that guy”.
James Click signed starter Jake Odorizzi late in the spring, which at the time wasn’t the most exciting signing for fans. And Odorizzi didn’t exactly wow at the start of the season – he gave up some big bombs in his first start, struggled with his command fastball command and even had an elbow injury scare.
However, after a brief stint on the IL, Odorizzi has come back and been elite. In his last five appearances Jake Odorizzi is 2-1 with a 1.02 ERA to go along with 21 strikeouts, only four walks, as 0.72 WHIP and an opposing batting average of .167. This run includes a 14-inning scoreless streak over three games (vs. Texas, @ Baltimore, @ Detroit) where he combined for 15 strikeouts and only allowed 4 hits.
Odorizzi has been effective with his 4-seam fastball – a pitch he’s using nearly 60% of the time this season. Although he only averages 92 MPH on that pitch, his ability to place and add movement to the pitch makes it tough to hit and generally gets hitters to chase out of the zone. Opponents are only hitting .189 against him with that pitch – a career-best for Odorizzi. That, along with his highly whiff-able (is that a word?) splitfinger and slider, continues to make Odorizzi been a force to be reckoned with on the mound.
With Odorizzi – along with the likes of Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy – the Astros have one of the deepest rotation in the majors. Now let’s hope health remains on our side.