Series Preview: Houston Astros (38-78) at Chicago Cubs (44-69)

In Series Previews by berselius97 Comments

The Cubs are 7.5 games out of the top pick in the 2013 draft, and can pick up some ground on the loss-leading Astros in this series. The Cubs have done their part, going 2-11 over the past two weeks but barely made a dent in the Astros lead after they went 3-10 over the same span.

Team Overviews

This should be ugly. NL rankings in parens

  Astros Cubs
wRC+ 86 (14th) 76 (16th)
BSR -6.2 (15th) 1.7 (6th)
UZR -10.9 (12th) 20.2 (2nd)
DRS -50 (15th) +9 (5th)
SP FIP- 116 (14th) 103 (11th)
RP FIP- 108 (14th) 111 (15th)

The Cubs might stink, but this is a rare opportunity for us to watch the Cubs play a team that they are actually superior to. The 2012 Astros are well deserving of their position at the top of the loss column.

Position Players

The Astros have Jed Lowrie and Jose Altuve…but that's about it. Former top catching prospect Jason Castro has not made much of his chance in the upper minors and majors, posting a .259 wOBA in 200+ PAs in 2010 and blowing out his ACL in spring training before the 2011 season. He struggled this year as well, posting a .308 wOBA in 195 PAs before hitting the DL with more problems in the same knee. Brett Wallace has finally started mashing now that Carlos Lee is gone, and the Astros have to be hoping that this power surge is the real deal after he posted .319 and .369 SLG in his first two years (~500 PAs) with the team. He slugged around .500 in his last few stints in AAA.

Injuries

Jed Lowrie is also out with a sprained ankle (plus nerve damage) but hopes to return before the season is over. The Astros are also missing speedster CF Jordan Schafer (separated shoulder) and Proven Closer Francisco Cordero (foot injury). Jason Castro should be back from his knee injury this series, if not tonight.

Garza is out, and the latest I see is that he won't even be allowed to pick up a baseball until the end of the month. We'll see you in March, Matt. Ian Stewart was moved to the 60-day DL in a roster move to add more cannon fodder to the bullpen today.

Probable Pitchers

Monday: Armando Galarraga, RHP (4.70, 6.94, 6.42, 5.73) vs Jeff Samardzija, RHP (4.21, 3.56, 3.60, 4.15), 7:05 PM CT

Galarraga has made three starts this year and he's been walking guys all over the place. He walked six in five innings in his first start, and followed that up with a seven walk performance in his next outing. He managed to find the platet against the less formidable Pirates offense, walking just one and allowing two runs in five innings. Even if he's on his game against the Cubs similarly awful offense, expect to see a lot of the Stros bullpen today.

Samardzija had a strong outing against the Padres, going seven innings, giving up one run while striking out six and walking one. Of course that was good enough to give him the loss. He just needs to want it more. Aside from a few major hiccups his Decepticon act is still in full swing. He's passed his inning total from 2011 by about 45 innings at this point, so we'll see if the Cubs are careful with him. I haven't heard anything to say that they'll shut him down, they'll probably just let him pitch but give him a little extra rest the rest of the way.

Tuesday: Lucas Harrell, RHP (3.97, 3.82, 3.97, 4.51) vs Chris Volstad, RHP (6.94, 4.57, 4.62, 4.78), 7:05 PM CT

Harrell is having a quietly great season with the Astros. He was drafted by the White Sox in 2004 and had middling numbers that likely disguised a big GB%, and the Astros picked him up in a waiver claim last year. He's been killing worms with his sinker, but having a little trouble with walks. Luckily plenty of those baserunners have found themselves in double plays. He could be a good back of the rotation guy for this team for some time.

Speaking of back of the rotation sinkerballers, Volstad had a Volstad-y start against the Reds in his last time out. Since his return he's had slightly more success, not giving up as many hits and more importantly not melting down every time a runner touched first base. He's given up a few HRs but has turned in two nominally Quality Starts in his return.

Wednesday: Bud Norris, RHP (4.93, 4.12, 4.01, 3.95) vs Justin Germano, RHP (3.28, 3.17, 4.32, 4.32), 1:20 PM CT

Norris has taken a small step back from his solid 2010 and 2011 seasons, and while his ERA is not so good all of his peripherals look like he's still the same guy. Must just be a sequencing thing. He's an extreme flyball pitcher so it could be a fun day if the wind is blowing out on a hot August afternoon at Wrigley.

Germano was knocked around by the Reds to the tune of six runs in 5+ innings last week. The only question in his starts is whether he'll give up more runs than the number of jokes that Brenly will make about putting away the radar gun.

 

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Comments

  1. GW

    @ GBTS:

    He had just woken up from a nap when reporters told him that Swisher was coming up to bat. He needs a few innings to decide how to pitch to him.

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  2. Rizzo the Rat

    Are people actually paying to watch these games? It’s almost false advertizing to label this series as “baseball.”

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  3. Rice Cube

    @ Rizzo the Rat:

    It’s better to be lucky than good sometimes.

    I like that DeJesus walks. He’s not exactly Barry Bonds or even Carlos Pena but considering the impatience in this lineup, the occasional BB is a luxury.

    Vitters wuz robbed again.

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  4. SVB

    Rice Cube wrote:

    @ SVB:
    Why 20 wins? That does seem low. Plus it seems misleading. Like, how many of the pitchers in that study who reached the 20-win cutoff (but barely) won no more because they sucked versus getting injured and were out of the game?

    I really do think the Nats could’ve handled Strasburg differently with extra rest, skipped starts, etc., but I assume they know what they’re doing since they’re a multimillion dollar business with smart people in charge and I’m just posting on a sick day.

    I think the low cut off was the point. For 1st round starters that were babied, they couldn’t even win 20 ML games in the majors. Those who pitched >150 innings had a 2:1 chance of winning 20, while those that didn’t did even worse.

    When I was 30 I was a post-doc and decided to exercise a little more since I had some free time. So I started cardio and lifting with another post-doc and 2 beginning grad students. The grad students (age 22) more than doubled my progress in adding weight to their reps over the year we exercised together. If mechanics are understood and watched closely, then I think more repetition is of greater value in development than innings limits. Seems to me that we understand mechanics pretty well now (arm angles, slots, whatever). When a pitcher gets so fatigued that his mechanics break down, you pull him. If your pitching coach isn’t good enough to tell, then you need a new coach. If a minor leaguer goes a few games in August where he can’t produce good mechanics, you shut him down. Otherwise he pitches. At least that makes sense to me.

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  5. GBTS

    @ Berselius:
    I was a huge fan as a kid, I went back and rewatched the first season a while ago and was stunned at how terrible it was. Also, at how retarded Mulder is. (dying laughing)

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  6. Author
    Berselius

    @ GBTS:

    I dunno GBTS, I’m quite enjoying them. There’s been a few clunkers and a few reminders that we’re in the early 90s but for the most part it’s been good. I was impressed that they already had a good idea of who the characters were and what stories they had to tell by the second episode, it felt like the show had been going on forever already.

    I rewatched some TNG a while back, which I was a fan of as a kid and was similarly blown away by how awful the early seasons were. I want to build a time machine so I can go back and ensure those writers never get jobs in television again (dying laughing). And I guess kill Hitler, because that’s what you do with time machines.

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  7. mb21

    @ Berselius:
    I’m not sure what’s funnier: Phi Rogers thinking Tyler Colvin is all that big of a deal or Desipio thinking the last 76 AB tells us more than the overall 279 PA this year.

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  8. mb21

    If people think a small sample like Desipio used means shit why don’t we we hear people talking about how much Starlin Castro sucks considering he barely has a .600 OPS over his last 179 PA? That’s only 100 fewer than Colvin has had all year.

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  9. mb21

    I was in senior in high school when X-Files came out and never had the time to watch it. I started watching it about 6 or 7 years ago and didn’t get past the 2nd episode. I’m sure it’s a show I’d enjoy, but I’ve heard from friends who watched it that there are a lot of bad episodes throughout the series and I wasn’t interested in watching it unless I got hooked. If someone could make a list of the good ones I might watch it. Probably not though. (dying laughing)

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  10. Rice Cube

    @ Berselius:
    I think the Rockies knew who they were getting when they traded for him and have used him sparingly despite his gaudy-looking power numbers. I think he’s been able to get a few doubles and triples lately but I was surprised to note that he didn’t have any homers, even while playing at least half his games so far in the second half in Colorado. The home-road split is really stark.

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  11. mb21

    @ josh:
    Yes, but it was also used as evidence that he wasn’t. I have no idea what Rogers said. I don’t care enough to read his articles, but the Cubs got the bad end of the trade on this one. No, Colvin will probably never be an everyday outfielder, but Ian Stewart is going to be non-tendered and was useless to this team. Colvin could at least provide some outfield depth. Not a bad trade at the time, but it didn’t work out. Not a huge risk so it’s not a big deal.

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  12. Aisle424

    @ mb21:

    Dolan just likes dumping on Phil Rogers. I don’t know whether he believes the small sample is a big deal or not, but I’m fairly certain he isn’t going to let that get in the way of making a joke at Phil’s expense.

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  13. Rice Cube

    @ mb21:
    I’d imagine guys like Stewart, Volstad and Wells aren’t going to be asked back except if they accept minor league deals. Didn’t really expect Stewart to pan out, but did kind of expect Colvin to have some good-looking numbers at Coors. They also generally don’t use Colvin against LHP and sparingly otherwise which is why he doesn’t even have 300 PA so far. I’ve been tracking this just because I was curious how he’d do and was surprised that it was pretty much what I expected…

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  14. GBTS

    mb21 wrote:

    I started watching it about 6 or 7 years ago and didn’t get past the 2nd episode.

    That’s hardly “started watching it.” That’s “I watched an episode once.” (dying laughing)

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  15. josh

    @ GBTS:
    A friend of mine rewatched the entire series and the first movie in anticipation of the new movie. Neglecting sleep for a week straight so he wouldn’t miss as single reference or point of note in the new movie. It was all he could talk about for a week.

    I understand he was disappointed.

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  16. mb21

    @ Aisle424:
    I just hate seeing stuff like that. It’s a pet peeve. There are subsets of the stats that are important. Splits are. We know batters hit opposite handed pitching better, but it takes a very large sample to know what an individual player’s split skills are and most of the time they’re about the same as everyone else. How someone has done over the last month, in April or since the break just isn’t valuable. It tells us less about the player than if we looked at the entire season. Looking at one season tells us less than if looked at the last few. The only time it might matter how someone has done over the last N games is if they’re coming back from an injury. Because if we’re going to use small samples of some kind of evidence that a player sucks, we can’t ignore how much Starlin Castro sucks and I don’t think anybody is willing to agree to that. I know I’m not, but if someone wants to throw around how well someone has done since the break we’ve got nearly 200 PA of Starlin Castro blowing ass. And it’s just 200 PA and means relatively little. We can break the stats down and make any player look any way we want. People broke the stats down to show Sammy Sosa sucked in clutch situations. It’s true. He’s one of the worst (actually the worst) at hitting in the clutch, but that’s not as valuable as all his plate appearances.

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  17. mb21

    You can look at Tyler Colvin’s career and figure out he’s not very good. You don’t need the last 76 AB to do it. He’s been worth .4 rWAR in his career.

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  18. mb21

    @ Rice Cube:
    He has a 117 wRC+, which is park adjusted. I never expected him to be anywhere near that good, but he’s been pretty good so far. He’ll regress. We know that because he just hasn’t been that good over his career, but as of right now, he’s been better than average considering his playing time.

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  19. Rice Cube

    @ mb21:
    I think the Rockies should be commended for maximizing Colvin’s situational usage then (dying laughing)

    @ Mercurial Outfielder:
    I don’t think he’s blogged about Paterno in a very long time, and it seems like it would behoove him to stay as far away from that as possible. Is his book even getting published anymore?

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  20. Mercurial Outfielder

    Nice take on Castro from Sveum:

    Starlin Castro was in the No. 5 hole on Monday, though Sveum said he’d probably be a No. 6 or 7 hitter in a more “prolific” offense and isn’t a top-of-the-order hitter because of his lack of patience.

    Despite hitting fifth, Sveum doesn’t expect Castro to change his approach.

    “You can’t expect anybody to take what they are and put them in the leadoff spot and expect them to take more pitches, or hit fifth and think they’re going to (hit for power) or hit second and (think) ‘I’ve got take pitches because the leadoff guy is going to steal bases,'” Sveum said. “You can’t ask guys to do that, especially at this stage of his career, and the kind of the hitter he is. You’re asking way too much then.”

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  21. mb21

    Mercurial Outfielder wrote:

    “You can’t expect anybody to take what they are and put them in the leadoff spot and expect them to take more pitches, or hit fifth and think they’re going to (hit for power) or hit second and (think) ‘I’ve got take pitches because the leadoff guy is going to steal bases,’” Sveum said. “You can’t ask guys to do that, especially at this stage of his career, and the kind of the hitter he is. You’re asking way too much then.”

    that guy from Rant Sports disagrees. (dying laughing)

    Nice comments from Sveum. Seems the organization has cooled on Castro a bit. And rightfully so.

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  22. mb21

    I think in a good offense Castro is going to end up being closer to 7th hitter than a 6th hitter so Sveum is right on. He obviously read my post yesterday. (dying laughing)

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