Future looking brighter with Norris
Bud Norris struck out 14 batters in seven innings Saturday and seems to be getting better as the season is progressing. This is terrific news for the Astros, who are counting on Norris and Jordan Lyles to be two of their young arms to anchor the rotation in the next few years.
The 14 strikeouts by Norris (5-7) are a career high, a record for Minute Maid Park and the most by an Astros pitcher since Wade Miller struck out 14 on May 30, 2003 at Wrigley Field. The last Astros pitcher with more than 14 strikeouts in a game was Randy Johnson, who whiffed 16 on Aug. 28, 1998 in the Astrodome.
Norris also tied Detroit’s Max Scherzer and Washington’s Stephen Strasburg for the second-most strikeouts in the Majors this year, trailing Toronto’s Brandon Morrow (17 on Aug. 8).
“I had no idea it was a [ballpark] record,” Norris said. “I’m trying to go out there and make pitches and the way [pitching coach Brad] Arnsberg and [catcher Humberto] Quintero had a report, I just had to go out there and execute my pitches and the game plan and [the strikeouts] game. Like I always say, I’m not going out there trying to strike guys out; I’m just trying to get outs.”
If Lyles lives up to the hype and Norris continues to blossom, the Astros’ rotation next year could set up quite nicely with Brett Myers and a rejuvenated Wandy Rodriguez at the top. And so far there’s no reason to believe J.A. Happ won’t be a terrific piece of the puzzle.
Felipe Paulino could be in the mix, too, but he has to prove he’s healthy, which has been a problem. As long as Norris remains healthy, he should continue to pile up the strikeouts and eventually more wins.