Will Jeremy Pena be able to rectify his inability to get ahead in counts and draw walks?
Jeremy Pena gave Astros fans a whole lot of hope at the beginning of the year with his on-field performance, causing a lot of them to say “Carlos who?”
But, his second half has been less than spectacular, causing concern for how he’ll handle elite-level pitching in October.
The biggest concern has to be his K/BB ratio. He has struck out 107 times this year against 19 walks, and in August, he’s walked twice against 25 strikeouts.
He’s dead last on the Astros in pitches seen per plate appearance (3.59 pitches per plate appearance), 3-0 counts seen percentage (2.8 % of his plate appearances have resulted in a 3-0 count), and 2-0 counts seen percentage (7.2 % of his plate appearances have resulted in a 2-0 count.)
His inability to get ahead in the count and draw walks will only get further exposed in the postseason when facing pitchers like Gerrit Cole, Alek Manoah, Luis Castillo, or Shane McClanahan. Not to mention, the inability to drive those starters’ pitch counts up if he can’t extend at-bats to potentially knock them out of a game early if he’s not seeing a lot of pitches.
The Astros are known for their propensity for contact and not expanding the zone. While Pena’s exceptional speed could result in some infield hits, his abnormally high strikeout rate could result in some rally-killing swings and misses in crucial moments.
If he can use this final month to alter his approach considering the cushion the Astros have, it wouldn’t be a bad time to experiment before October.