Dusty Days Off: Examination of forced days off for Astros players
Anyone who is paying attention to the Astros or the American League West is more than aware of Peña’s hot start and the big shoes he has to fill this season as Carlos Correa’s replacement. For the first handful of series, he has exceeded expectations and has continued his hot start from spring training.
Pre-Dusty Day off, Peña hit .345 with one home run and two RBI with five runs scored, and he was one of, if not the hottest bat in the Astros’ lineup after the Angels’ Opening Series. Since his recent scheduled day off Pena is hitting .154 with one home run, three RBI and two runs scored, but most of those stats came from the home opener in Houston, and in the three games following, he is 1-for-9, as of Saturday morning.
In Peña’s absence Aledmys Diaz went 1-for-2 with a double, again producing similar results average wise, but no other real production.
Altuve, like most Astros, had a great Opening Series Game 2 against the Angels, with the righty going 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. Altuve only hit .083 in his short three-game sample before being rested but all of his power and production numbers so far this season came during that series.
Since Altuve’s forced day off he has hit .208 with an RBI, run and stolen base. Further, Altuve’s replacement in Game 4 of the season was Aledmys Diaz, who went 0-for-4 in the game with no production to contribute to the Astros offense.
The scheduled day off did not go as hoped, as the Astros star lost all production numbers and now is on the mend after tweaking his hamstring this past week.
Probably the biggest piece of evidence against the scheduled day off and the most frustrating to Astros faithful is the case of Alex Bregman. Bregman was the hottest hitter in MLB before his forced day off on Game 3 of the Opening Series against the Angels.
Bregman was 2-for-4 in each of his first two games, and to add to his hot start and .500 average, Bregman’s monster two home run, four RBI Game 2 proved that not only was he back but he’s ready to compete at the same level as his prior best seasons in 2018 and 2019.
Baker inserted his seemingly pre-series laid plans to rest his veteran players, even if they are red-hot and inserted Niko Goodrum into the lineup in the three hole. This just added insult to injury as the tenured infielder went 0-for-3 for the game.
The Astros went from having the hottest bat in MLB in their prime hitting spot in the lineup to having an ice-cold role player. Since that fateful day, Bregman has hit .229 with five RBI, two runs scored and most significantly no home runs, except for his first homer at home Saturday.
I’m not sure how you can justify that as a manager. The best managers in the business read their teams and learn their players needs and adapt to them to get the most out of each person on their team. This, however, is case and point for the opposite.
Reminding Astros’ faithful of yet another Baker blunder, Friday’s pinch hitters in the ninth inning went directly against statistics, as the Toronto Blue Jays’ closer fares far better against lefties than righties and Baker pulled two right handed bats from the lineup for lefties to get the matchup he wanted.
If mistakes like the forced day off and fatal substitutions continue this season, it very well mean this is Baker’s last as an Astro. Let’s hope he learns from this botched start and forced off days and moves on to bigger and better decisions in the future.