Should Houston Astros Begin To Worry?
The Houston Astros at 36-28 still lead the division by 2.5 games over the surging Texas Rangers which is still very good. There might be no reason to worry considering that more injuries could unceremoniously hit the Rangers at any moment in time, and the Angels sure aren’t on fire. The Mariners are still very much a mess and Oakland can’t seem to build any consistency with their own injured roster. However history says young teams tend to falter down the stretch, so can the Astros hang on?
Consider that they were 18-7 on May 3rd after completing a 10 game winning streak but have been 18-21 since including a meagre run of 9-14 since May 20th. And don’t their young starters have innings limits? I mean, isn’t there reason to worry here?
In terms of answering the former question, Vincent Velasquez’ highest amount of innings pitched came in 2013 with 124.2. 2014 only saw 77.1 innings and that includes his Fall league performance. He’s already pitched 40 percent of the innings he threw last year. At this rate, and assuming six innings per start for 16 more starts, he’ll already have surpassed his 2013 total by the end of August.
As for Lance McCullers, he’s been so good in his six starts going 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA, however he might only have 60 more innings available considering a 20 percent increase on his highest innings output of 104.2 which came in 2013! He may only have 9 to 10 more starts left and that takes him till maybe early-August.
If you ask me, that is reason to worry and cause to start looking for other rotation reinforcements unless of course Houston is totally unconcerned with innings limits and will ride what they have until they can’t do it anymore. A recent study by the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness suggests that they might be correct in that train of thought, innings limits be damned.
But what about the rest of their starting staff? Collin McHugh has struggled recently since his start against the Giants May 12th. His ERA since that start has been 6.94 and only seven of his 13 starts have been quality. That’s a far cry from earlier in the season when he had a 3.23 ERA after six starts – much more in line with his 2014 numbers.
Brett Oberholtzer has been pretty good in four starts sporting a 2.25 ERA and 3.16 FIP so far. Brad Peacock recently suffered an interruption in his rehab, but even if he’s healthy, he’s hardly a trustworthy option. Righty Scott Feldman would be a welcome addition once he’s ready to return from knee surgery after the All-Star break. Seven of his ten starts this season have been of the quality variety.
Ace Dallas Keuchel continues to be stellar and is currently second in MLB for hits per nine, third in innings, fourth in ERA and second in WAR for pitchers. When he’s on the mound, his teammates can expect at least six innings every time out. That is someone the team can rely on.
Therefore, a rotation of Keuchel, McCullers, McHugh, Oberholtzer and soon, Feldman, isn’t a bad starting five, however plopping in someone in the form of a Cueto or Hamels sure would help them boost their momentum heading into the second half of the season.
So, should the Astros start worrying here, or do you think they have enough to hang on?