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Astros vs Ace Pitching

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by The Beard, Jun 20, 2015.

  1. The Beard

    The Beard Contributing Member

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    Lot of talk in the game threads (and others) about how poorly we would do in the playoffs vs Ace pitchers. The fact that our K's would expose us to these Top of the Rotation guys and we would be an easy out. So I decided to take a look at how we have performed against those guys.

    Looking at possible playoff teams (and no, we are a long way from guaranteed to be one of those but...) and their Aces

    Tampa Bay. Archer and Odorizzi are their aces and we haven't faced them
    New York.. Pineida and Tanaka we haven't faced
    Toronto...most likely to win that division in my opinion, but they don't have a true front line starter

    So we haven't faced any Ace pitchers from the likely AL East

    Cleveland. Corey Kluber 1-0, not likely to be in playoffs anyway
    Minnesota, no Ace and not likely to be in playoffs
    Detroit..David Price 0-1, Anibal Sanchez 1-0

    So 2-1 against AL Central top guys on possible playoff teams

    Texas..No Ace
    LAA..Richards 1-1, Shoemaker 1-0, Wilson 1-0
    Seattle..Felix 1-0..very unlikely to be in playoffs so I won't count that one

    3-1 vs the top pitchers here

    So very small sample size, but 5-2 against them

    First thing that stands out looking at rosters and how we have done in games against them, is how few aces there are on possible AL playoff teams. Of course trades could change that, but Cueto and Hamels are the only two likely Aces on the move and hopefully we are in on one of them ourselves

    If you want to look at how we did against other Front end starters, on teams other than those we would likely face

    Felix 1-0
    Sale 0-1
    Shields 1-0

    Obviously we can all argue on what an "Ace" is, who is and isn't a front line starter, and so forth and so on

    But in 10 games against the best pitchers we have faced, we have won 7 of those games. Now i'm in no way saying we are going to go out and dominate Ace pitching in a playoff situation...I am saying though, there is nothing to show that we will be overmatched against those pitchers more than other playoff teams.

    It's a little surprising to me how few of them there really are in the AL right now
     
  2. Progs

    Progs Member

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    This is why Jeff Luhnow will acquire an ace to take the next step...I would throw in Appeal and Moran in the deal
     
  3. Major

    Major Member
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    I would just point out that teams are supposed to struggle vs aces - that's what makes them aces.

    That said, I'd argue that, if anything, our lineup is relatively more suited to beating an ace and worse against regular pitchers, because the HR-or-bust approach creates more variability. You're not likely to string together several hits against an ace, so the random lucky solo HR can be a more effective way to score in that situation. Against a mediocre pitcher, the strikeouts and low average really hurt because you'll have more opportunities to be moving people around basepaths.
     
  4. The Beard

    The Beard Contributing Member

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    I agree with that 100%
     
  5. The Real Shady

    The Real Shady Contributing Member

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    But the HR or bust guys like Carter and Gattis usually excel off bad pitcher mistakes. Ace pitchers rarely make mistakes.
     
  6. sealclubber1016

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    While I'm fine with finishing the season with our current lineup, some changes have to be made in the offseason. We have the 7th highest swing rate in the league, and the worst contact rate. A .308 team OBP isn't gonna fly.

    Career OBP's
    .353 Springer
    .339 Altuve (.324 if you remove last season)
    .333 Lowrie
    .315 Carter
    .314 Castro
    .314 Rasmus
    .307 Valbuena
    .296 Conger
    .294 Gattis
    .284 Gonzalez
    .271 Marisnick

    Aside from Correa and Springer, every other guy is a poor OBP player. We need to turn at least one, preferably 2 of those into good OBP guys. After last season I had hoped Altuve would hit enough to maintain a .350 OBP, but right now I'm not feeling so good about it. Hopefully he can do something the rest of this year and prove last year wasn't a fluke.

    I agree with everybody that stabilizing this rotation is the primary concern, but I also think we likely need to also improve this lineup moving forward.
     
  7. The Beard

    The Beard Contributing Member

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    I think if Luhnow thinks he can get "better" players, he certainly will. I wouldn't hold my breath hoping for him to think the way you are here though. Luhnow obviously values power, I think he values any type of "skill" that gives you an advantage over others.

    The fact that he put this team together based so much on power, and then the team is 4th in all of baseball in runs scored, likely means he is feeling good about what he has put together. He seems like a stats and results based guy, not so much a traditional "baseball has to be a certain way" guy.

    He will certainly continue to try and get better and better at any position he can. But I can't see him saying "we will sacrifice this skill for that skill" and so forth. Just get guys who have value in whatever way. That seems to be his MO, and he has us sitting with the most wins in the AL at least a couple of years earlier than anyone expected...

    Something tells me he isn't too worried about winning "the way" CF posters want him to win, lol
     
  8. jim1961

    jim1961 Member

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    4th overall in runs scored does say much. And when Lorrie returns, the team OBP should climb a bit.

    Starting pitching seems the area in greater need of attention. A trade for a starter seems quite likely.

    Add Lowrie and a starter, and we may just hold on and take a division title this year.
     
  9. Major

    Major Member
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    That's true of all players - everyone struggles against the Sales and Scherzers of the world. The question is who struggles relatively more.

    I don't have any data to back this up, but I suspect ace pitchers give up a larger % of their runs on HRs than mediocre pitchers. Take Max Scherzer, for example. He's given up 20 earned runs this year - 11 were via HRs (6 total HRs). As difficult as it is to hit a HR off him, it's even more difficult to string together several hits against him. You're probably going to lose regardless, of course, but relying on one mistake and driving out of the ballpark is a more likely outcome than relying on a bunch of consecutive mistakes.
     
  10. RunninRaven

    RunninRaven Clown Toilet Advocate
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    Plus having a lineup that is full of guys capable of hitting that long ball increases the odds that when the ace pitcher makes one of his few mistakes you have a batter up there that has the skills to make it count.
     
  11. The Beard

    The Beard Contributing Member

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    That's the thing. Individually it's easy to criticize some of these guys. But the team is built with SO MANY power guys, that chances are you are gonna hit a HR (or more) most nights. Look at the multi homer streak we are on right now.
     
  12. Hey Now!

    Hey Now! Contributing Member

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    It might climb, sure. But Lowrie isn't prime Craig Biggio. In fact, he's closer to chasing-3000-hits Biggio, in terms of OB%.

    And where, exactly, is Lowrie going to play, BTW? Everyone just assumes when he returns, the offense magically finds its footing .. but I'm not sure the guy is going to see the field that often. He'll probably platoon with Valbuena and play against lefties - but he's not going to get too many starts at 2B or, especially, SS.
     
  13. rocketpower2

    rocketpower2 Member

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    He'll play everywhere, giving different guys rest. Been taking groundballs at 3B, has played a lot of 2B and even 1B at times in the past. Will be our Zobrist.
     
  14. kaleidosky

    kaleidosky Your Tweety Bird dance just cost us a run
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    I think he'll play vsL at 3B

    vsR, 15-20% in place of Gattis, 30% in place of Carter, 5-15% in place of Altuve depending on current streakiness of each player (and 35-50% of vsR games, rest)
     
  15. The Beard

    The Beard Contributing Member

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    Agree in general

    But Gattis and Carter won't be sitting anywhere near that much

    Regardless of how some CF posters feel about them, they are doing what Luhnow acquired them to do and its working and they won't be sitting much
     
  16. kaleidosky

    kaleidosky Your Tweety Bird dance just cost us a run
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    Gattis playing 80-85% of games vsR and 100% of game vsL? That's almost like a standard workload..maybe 2 extra games off a month or something compared to normal.

    Suggestion on Carter would be maybe 4 extra games off a month. But if he's playing well, you can cut that down to 2 extra game off a month.

    Including their existing rest days, if Lowrie gets 4 games from Gattis, 5 from Carter, 2 from Altuve, roughly 10 from Valbuena...that's a solid workload I think. And obviously he'd be able to fill in for any injuries.
     
  17. Hey Now!

    Hey Now! Contributing Member

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    He's not playing "everywhere" - he'll likely platoon with Valbuena at 3B but he's never played the OF and has basically had a sip of coffee at 1B. He's a middle infielder and I just don't see them giving too many nights off to Altuve or (especially) Correa.

    Beyond that, they'll likely only have 3 available slots (LF, CF, DH) for 4 guys: Tucker, Rasmus, Marishnick and Gattis. So Lowrie joins that already crowded group.

    I don't think it's going to be easy to find ABs for him (barring a trade).
     
  18. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    He'd be an instant upgrade at 1B... even if he's only played sparingly there.
     
  19. kaleidosky

    kaleidosky Your Tweety Bird dance just cost us a run
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    Just outlined it above. What part of that do you disagree with?
     
  20. Hey Now!

    Hey Now! Contributing Member

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    While he'll likely platoon with Valbuena, the Astros have faced more RHs than LH (at a ratio of 1.5:1); you are completely making up this idea that he can play 1B (30% of Carter's starts?); the team is not going to make a habit of sitting Altuve or Correa (especially) for Jed Lowrie.

    He can DH - but that's a crowded field already (Gattis and whoever isn't playing CF/LF among Marishnick, Rasmus, Tucker)

    This team is built around hitting HRs - I just don't see Lowrie, and his 60 career HRs, edging ahead of Carter/Gattis/Valbuena with any consistency.
     
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