Houston Astros Trend: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not (Vol 5)

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Houston Astros, Martin Maldonado
Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports /

Who’s Not

Catchers – Martin Maldonado & Jason Castro

The Astros have been clicking on all cylinders with the offense for most of the year, but I thought writing about the sub-par hitting from the catchers is worth examining.

Martin Maldonado (10-for-53) and Jason Castro (6-for-34) have combined for a .184 BA over the past month, with only 2 home runs and 4 extra base hits. Both players were key in the Sunday rally against the Yankees– Maldonado hit a homer and Castro hit a big soft single in the 9th – but production like this just doesn’t seem to happen enough. Maldonado has been striking out 36% of the time and posting only a .623 OPS. Jason Castro hasn’t been much better – striking out 30% of the time with an OPS of .570.

I get it – so what? Both Maldonado and Castro are above-average defensive catchers, guys who are among the best at framing pitches, fielding balls and throwing out baserunners. Both guys are also loved by their teammates and seem to be essential parts of this Astro squad. But would it be worth looking for upgrades?

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With the trade deadline coming up, catchers might be available that could provide upgrades offensively. Yan Gomes (.268 BA, .763 OPS) is one who comes to mind, a guy with a championship pedigree and a track record of production at the plate. Jake Stallings and Mitch Garver are other more realistic options, assuming if either Pittsburgh or Minnesota decide to sell at the deadline. Would those guys be an upgrade? And what would the price be?

I personally would stick with Maldonado and Castro in hopes these guys can generate more production in the second half of the season. But it’ll be worth keeping an eye on them as we draw closer to the deadline.

Brandon Bielak

Bielak is having a very forgettable 2021. The right-hander has skills and a solid pitch repertoire, but posted a 12.27 ERA in his last six appearances – yikes. During these appearances, Bielak has allowed ten earned runs, three home runs and an opponent batting average of .371. Only he and Robel Garcia are posting a WHIP above 2.00 on the roster at the moment — and for those of you who don’t know, Robel Garcia is a utility infielder.

Those great starts from Bielak back in 2020 seem like a lifetime ago, and this current version of Bielak is scuffling. While he has shown flashes over the past month (nine strikeouts over his past seven innings) Bielak has been shelled far too often this season to be dependable. It’s looking less likely that he will be an integral part of the bullpen come playoff time.

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