WEEK IN REVIEW – MAY 7-13
ASTROS (5-1, 26-16 overall)
Monday, May 7 – Astros 16, A’s 2
Tuesday, May 8 – Astros 4, A’s 2
Wednesday, May 9 – Astros 4, A’s 1
Friday, May 11 – Rangers 1, Astros 0
Saturday, May 12 – Astros 6, Rangers 1
Sunday, May 13 – Astros 6, Rangers 1
The Astros largely took care of business against teams they would expect to beat, holding their bottom two division opponents to just eight runs the entire week. With that 1.33 ERA for the week under their belt, the overall team ERA stands at 2.49, with the nearest challenger being from the Diamondbacks at 3.16. The rotation ERA is down to 2.24. It may get repetitive reading about the pitching in this space from week to week, but I refuse to not continue to acknowledge the outstanding mound work this team is doing.
The offense had a very good week as well. Of course, a 16-run game will skew the weekly stats but Friday’s shutout aside, 20 runs in five games is not bad either. Springer was having a monster week (.643/.706/1.000) before taking that pitch off his elbow on Friday night. Gattis showed that he has a pulse, going 6×17 with two bombs. Fisher contributed a couple of huge homers. In all, five players finished the week with a 1.000 OPS or higher, and Correa narrowly missed that by .003.
The next 20-game stretch will be a bit of a challenge, as 18 of those games will be played against teams that are either currently leading their division and/or are over .500.
ELSEWHERE IN THE AL WEST…
The Angels (24-16) split both a four-game series with the Twins and a two-game set with the Rockies, causing them to sag into second place in the division.
The Mariners (22-17) also went 3-3 last week against the Blue Jays and Tigers. Robinson Cano stands to miss significant playing time after a pitch broke a bone in his hand on Sunday.
After the Astros beat dat ass in Oakland, the A’s (19-21) lost two of three to the Yankees in New York.
The Rangers (16-26) started their week with a series victory against the Tigers. Adrian Beltre is likely going back to the DL with a hamstring injury, only a week after coming off the DL for the same injury.
ELSEWHERE IN MLB…
Some ins, some outs, some what have yous. Sorry, pretty busy the last couple days.
THE WEEK AHEAD – MAY 14-20
Astros @ Angels – May 14-16
Season series: Angels 2-1
Schedule and Probables
Monday, May 14, 9:07pm CDT
Lance McCullers Jr. (5-1, 3.72) vs. Andrew Heaney (1-2, 4.78)
Tuesday, May 15, 9:07pm CDT
Gerrit Cole (4-1, 1.43) vs. Jaime Barria (3-1, 2.45)
Wednesday, May 16, 8:40pm CDT
Justin Verlander (4-2, 1.21) vs. Garrett Richards (4-1, 4.08)
The Angels remain one of baseball’s best offenses with 202 runs scored (tied with the Astros for 4th in MLB). Trout, Simmons, and Ohtani are all hitting over .300 and getting on base a lot (Trout’s OBP is .450!). Anaheim’s overall pitching has also improved since the last Angels-Astros meeting, with their 3.88 ERA getting them up to 11th in MLB.
Thanks to the Angels’ freaky-deaky rotation, none of these three have pitched against the Astros yet this season. Heaney is getting his first extended big league work since 2015, having spent much of 2016 and 2017 dealing with an elbow injury and the subsequent Tommy John surgery. In five games he has been mostly solid (his ERA is mostly skewed by a 7-run outing against the Giants in April), although he has only pitched more than five innings twice. Barria is a 21-year-old newcomer to the big club and has started four games for the Angels. Of particular note, he threw 77 pitches in only two innings against the Giants, yet only allowed two runs. He most recently held the Rockies scoreless for 5.1 innings. Richards will be making his first start against Houston this year, and he has pitched well for the most part this season despite a couple of clunkers. In 2017 Richards was 0-1 with a 0.82 ERA against the Astros.
Verlander and Cole both went seven innings against the Angels in April; both allowed two runs; Verlander got the W while Cole got an L. Last year McCullers was 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA in three starts (17 innings) against LAA.
Indians @ Astros – May 18-20
Schedule and Probables
Friday, May 18, 7:10pm CDT
Mike Clevinger (3-0, 2.70) vs. Charlie Morton (5-0, 2.03)
Saturday, May 19, 3:10pm CDT
Corey Kluber (6-2, 2.34) vs. Dallas Keuchel (3-5, 3.10)
Sunday, May 20, 1:10pm CDT
Carlos Corrasco (5-1, 3.61) vs. Lance McCullers Jr. (5-1, 3.72)
What a difference a year makes. Whereas the Indians’ starting pitching is keeping about the same top 5 pace that they did last season (their 3.44 ERA is 4th in MLB), 2017’s best bullpen has been one of 2018’s biggest bullpen disasters. Cleveland relievers have a whopping 5.26 ERA, third worst in MLB, and that jumps up to 5.71 just by removing Andrew Miller from the equation. The Indians have a top 10 offense so they’ll once again be a force if they can get their relief pitching worked out.
Clevinger has been very good this year and should have more wins to his name if not for lack of run support or bullpenanigans after he leaves the game. He has thrown seven or more innings four times, including a complete game two-hit shutout of the Orioles. Kluber looks every bit the defending Cy Young winner: seven of his nine starts are of seven innings or more, and his next non-quality start will be his first of the year. Corrasco has been prone to some bad outings (6 runs vs. Blue Jays, 5 runs vs. Mariners) but has also already pitched two complete games. Last year Clevinger shut out the Astros while Kluber picked up a win after seven innings of work. Corrasco hasn’t faced the Astros since 2016.
Keuchel pitched a complete game against the Indians last year, while McCullers took the loss on five runs over five innings. The Indians did a number on Verlander last year: in four starts, his 8.14 ERA against them was his worst against any other team by a full three runs. In April and July he allowed 16 earned runs in just 7.1 innings against them; his other two starts were quality starts.