Sep
27

9/27-9/29 Series Preview: Houston Astros

By
(Bob Levey/Getty)

(Bob Levey/Getty)

If the Yankees and Astros play three meaningless games in Minute Maid Park to close out the season and no one sees them … did it actually happen? A recent Astros television broadcast received a 0.0 Nielsen rating, so pretty much no one watched the game. I’m guessing more than a few people will tune in to see the Bombers this weekend, however.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Astros have lost 12 straight games and come into this series with the very worst record in baseball: 51-108 with a -232 run differential. They are, as the kids say, stupid bad.

Offense
At 3.8 runs per game with a team 87 wRC+, Houston is a below-average offensive club. No surprise there. They’re without C Jason Castro (130 wRC+), their best player, who is done for the season with a knee injury. OF Robbie Grossman (97 wRC+) is out with an oblique issue as well.

Carter. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Carter. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Manager Bo Porter doesn’t have a lot of firepower at his disposal. Aside from Castro, the team’s only legitimate above-average everyday hitter is 1B Chris Carter (115 wRC+), who has huge power (29 homers and .232 ISO) and will strike out a frickin’ ton (36.5%). 2B Jose Altuve (86 wRC+) and 1B Brett Wallace (96 wRC+) are two other guys you might recognize, along with former Yankees farmhands 3B Brandon Laird (94 wRC+ in limited time) and OF Jimmy Paredes (33 wRC+ in limited time). OF L.J. Hoes (96 wRC+ in limited time) and 3B Matt Dominguez (91 wRC+) have been useful.

Aside from those guys, there’s not much to see here. C Carlos Corporan (85 wRC+), C Max Stassi (96 wRC+ in super duper limited time), and C Cody Clark (-37 wRC+ in very limited time) handle things behind the plate with Castro hurt. IF Jake Elmore (83 wRC+ in limited time), IF Marwin Gonzalez (55 wRC+), and SS Jonathan Villar (83 wRC+) are the various infielders. OF Brandon Barnes (77 wRC+), OF Trevor Crowe (72 wRC+ in limited time), OF J.D. Martinez (77 wRC+), and OF Marc Krauss (76 wRC+) fill out the rest of the bench. Nineteen position players in all.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Adam Warren vs. LHP Brett Oberholtzer
Oberholtzer, 24, has a 2.71 ERA (3.77 FIP) in 66.1 innings across nine starts and three relief appearances this season, his rookie season. The southpaw doesn’t miss bats (5.56 K/9 and 15.5 K%), doesn’t walk anyone (1.63 BB/9 and 4.4 BB%), and doesn’t get ground balls (36.6%). He does kinda keep the ball in the park though (0.95 HR/9 and 7.6% HR/FB). Oberholtzer sits right around 90 with his two and four-seam fastballs, using them to set up his low-80s changeup and upper-70s knucklecurve. Obviously, the Yankees have never seen him before.

Clemens. (Jason Miller/Getty)

Clemens. (Jason Miller/Getty)

Saturday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Paul Clemens
No relation to Roger, the 25-year-old Clemens has a 5.69 ERA (5.97 FIP) in 68 innings covering four starts and 30 relief appearances. He’s in the rotation because there’s no one else, basically. The peripherals are just terrible: 5.96 K/9 (14.9 K%), 3.31 BB/9 (8.3 BB%), 2.12 HR/9 (14.4% HR/FB), and 36.1% grounders. Clemens has good stuff, sitting in the low-to-mid-90s with his four-seamer and low-90s with his two-seamer. A hard mid-80s changeup and upper-70s curveball are his two secondary pitches. The Yankees actually saw Clemens earlier this season, scoring a run against him in 1.1 innings of relief.

Sunday: TBA vs. LHP Erik Bedard
Finally, a pitcher we’ve heard of. Bedard, 34, has pitched to a 4.81 ERA (4.52 FIP) in 144 innings this year, his most since 2007. His strikeout rate (8.06 K/9 and 20.3 K%) is good but the walk (4.69 BB/9 and 11.8 BB%), homer (1.13 HR/9 and 9.6% HR/FB), and ground ball (36.8%) numbers aren’t. Bedard still has that knee-buckling mid-70s curveball, but his fastballs (two and four-seamer) have slipped into the upper-80s with age and injury. An upper-70s changeup is his fourth pitch. The Yankees have seen Bedard a bunch of times over the years, both the good version with the Orioles and the broken down version with the Mariners.

Fields. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Fields. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Bullpen Status
The Astros were off yesterday, but that doesn’t really matter with September call-ups and the season about to end. Rule 5 Draft pick RHP Josh Fields (5.45 FIP) has taken over as closer and LHP Kevin Chapman (4.44 FIP) does most of the setup work. RHP Rhiner Cruz (5.36 FIP in limited time) and RHP Josh Zeid (4.75 FIP in limited time) tend to get the ball in the middle innings. Thanks to expanded rosters, Porters also has inexperienced arms RHP Jorge De Leon, RHP Chia-Jen Lo, and RHP David Martinez in the bullpen.

The Yankees are in fine bullpen shape at this point. I don’t know if we’ll see Mariano Rivera again this season, and as sad as that would be, I would be perfectly cool with that given the send-off last night. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage details, then check out Crawfish Boxes for the latest and great on the Astros.

Categories : Series Preview
  • Robinson TIlapia

    So there was an NFL game during a still-new season on at the same time, and people in Texas certainly do love their football. While still MASSIVELY embarrassing, I could see what the road to a 0.0 rating looks like.

    Move over, Montreal Expos.

    I’d be fine with something resembling Mike Witt’s perfect game to close out the season. Why not.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Screen name fail. :)

  • So Close

    A lot of people in Houston don’t get the channel that broadcasts Astros games. That hurts their ratings enough as it is. That they are a dumpster fire just makes it worse.

    They are also just 25 strikeouts shy of the 2010 Diamondbacks’ single-season record by a team. Something to keep an eye on this series.

  • Darren

    I hope they sweep. I’ll be watching. From Mo’s comments about his knees, and from Derek’s reaction last night, I don’t think Mo’s gonna play center, which to me is a good thing.

    • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

      That was surprising (his comment on his knee). The Yanks are so good at keeping radio-silence when it comes to injury. But that would explain why Mo has had an off year. Even last night, a lot of his pitches were up and with reduced velocity.

      • Darren

        What I hear/read is that Mo said his request to play center was made “a long time ago” and that his “knees were no longer what they used to be”. I didn’t take that as anything specific with the ACL, just age-related decline.

        Like Longoria said last night, Mo may not be at the top of HIS game, but he’s still elite. He was so good that he can lose a few steps and still be one of the top couple of closers in the game.

  • JGYank

    This will truly be the last time we see Mo and Pettitte and I’ll be watching every game just to see them. Otherwise, besides draft position, this a completely meaningless series and we could put Wells and Ichiro play SS and 2B just for the heck of it.

    Also I’m really going to miss October baseball and this is going to be a looooong offseason.

  • dkidd

    i think the only way mo pitches is to save andy’s final start

    • Darren

      Good point.

    • Gonzo

      I kinda hope so.

  • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

    Astros stink, but every other team that stinks, they’ll play hard against the Yankees. This is their World Series. They’ll treat every game like it’s Game 7.

  • Hassey

    Hey, we’re in Houston, shouldn’t Kelly Leak be playing CF?

    • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

      es un bandido

    • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

      Gotta watch out for him, he always tears up Yankee pitchers.

    • dkidd

      let them play!

  • Hassey

    does Giro send Jeter and Mo out to the mound to pull Andy from the game on Sunday? Or is that already old?

  • Hassey

    Saturday Sunday whatever
    don;t bother me with details
    I’m an idea man
    the details are for the people who work for me

    • Darren

      Bad idea, boss. :) The power came from doing it once.
      Sunday he might let someone like Kuroda or even Hughes act as pitching coach for the day, although I can’t remember if he did that in 2008.

  • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

    Does anyone think Jeter will announce his retirement in advance?

    I think it’s an Old Yeller situation.

    He’ll play the full year, with absolutely no intention of leaving, and in the off season, they’ll take him behind the shed and tell him he won’t be resigned. At that point, some time in November, not wanting to play DH elsewhere, he’ll hold a presser and announce his retirement.

    Besides, it’s not in Jeter to wear his emotions on his sleeve with a long goodbye tour. Even during last night’s post game questions, he was cold and restrained, as if it was just another game.

    • Darren

      I think if Jeter feels like he can still play, and the Yankees don’t want him, he’ll go somewhere else.
      I really don’t think he cares about his legacy or image in the same way that Joe D did.
      He loves playing ball and he’s not gonna let Cashman force him to retire too early the way Jorge and Bernie were forced into it and the way the Yankees forced Donnie Baseball.

    • OldYanksFan

      Jeter’s 2014 year is at HIS option. If he wants in, he in. Yanks have no say so in the matter. But I guess the FO could tell Derek they will just sit him all year. Can you imagine them trying to that? They’d lose 1/2 their fanbase overnight. Fans at the 1st game would storm the field and 50 million strong would destroy the place.

      And you think Derek will just retire after what happened to him this year? Hell. Mo wouldn’t go out like that, and Mo is 3 years older.

      Derek WILL be our part time SS/part time DH next year. Baring serious injury, he will play at least 120 games.

      • LarryM Fl

        I would sign up for Jeter and 120. If he can DH .275/.285 and a fill in at shortstop. My thoughts are the injury is too severe to allow the rigors of 120 games and he more than likely will brake down. A healthy 40 year has enough of a problem just being fit and the energy to play half of those games.

        But I wish him well. He has disproved many a doubter in the past. May I be one of them.

      • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

        That’s what I said. If you re-read, I said “he’ll play the full year”.

        I’m referring to November 2014, at the end of his contract, not November 2013.

      • Darren

        Just to be clear, I was talking about for 2015, Jeter will go somewhere else if the Yanks don’t want him and he thinks he can still play.

        Next year is a big question mark, but my guess is he plays 100 games at SS and about 30-40 games as DH, pinch hitter for Ryan.

  • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

    Joba hasn’t pitched in 8 days.

    I wonder if they’ll let him pitch one last time.

  • andrew j

    My two cents. Pissed at poor management decisions that contributed to Andy and Mo not finishing their careers in the playoffs, facing off against the Sox one more time. A crappy way to go out even tho the tribute and goodbyes rocked.