Keuchel wins second AL Pitcher of the Month award

Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel won his second consecutive American League Pitcher of the Month award, joining Andy Pettitte and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers in club history to win the award twice in a single season.

Keuchel went 4-1 in his six starts in May, posting a 2.62 ERA and 38 strikeouts while allowing a .223 opponents’ average. The southpaw closed the month with back-to-back complete games, including a four-hit, 11-strikeout, shutout against the White Sox on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

Keuchel and Johnson are the only pitchers in Astros history to win consecutive pitcher of the month awards.

During the month, Keuchel led the AL in innings pitched, ranked tied for first in complete games, tied for fourth in wins, eighth in strikeouts and ninth in ERA. He currently leads all Major League pitchers in innings pitched (81 2/3), ERA (1.76), opponents’ average (.183) and groundball-to-fly ball ratio (4.68), while ranking tied for second in the AL in wins (7).

The 1979 season was the only other year when the Astros took home multiple pitcher of the month awards, as RHP Ken Forsch (April), RHP Joe Niekro (May), RHP Joaquin Andujar (June) and RHP J.R. Richard (September) all received National League Pitcher of the Month honors that year.

Astros’ Minor League Players of the Month

The Astros’ player development department has named May’s Minor League Pitchers and Players of the Month at each of their four in-season minor league affiliates (these awards are chosen every month by the field staff of each team):

At Triple-A Fresno, IF Jon Singleton was named the May Player of the Month and RHP Dan Straily was named the May Pitcher of the Month. Singleton had a historic month of May, as his 37 RBIs marked the most by a Triple-A player in a single month since May 2011, when IF Brett Lawrie and IF Mike Carp each put up 37 RBIs. In 29 total May games, Singleton hit .286 with seven doubles, one triple, 10 homers and a 1.001 OPS. This included a stretch in which he hit three grand slams and five total home runs over a five-game span, in addition to setting a Fresno single-game club record with 10 RBIs on May 13. The 23-year-old currently leads all of Minor League baseball in homers (14) and RBIs (49). In five May starts, Straily went 2-2 with a 3.07 ERA, 28 strikeouts and just three walks. During his final start of the month on May 30, Straily struck out 10 batters in six innings of one-run ball.

IF Tony Kemp was named the Double-A Corpus Christi Player of the Month after batting .326 with 11 stolen bases and a .417 on-base percentage in 23 games in May. The left-handed hitter currently ranks third in the Texas League in batting average, and ranks seventh among all Minor League hitters in on-base percentage (.437). Winning his second consecutive Corpus Christi Pitcher of the Month Award was RHP Chris Devenski, who went 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA and 19 strikeouts in five games (four starts) in May. On Friday, Devenski and LHP Josh Hader combined to throw the first no-hitter in Hooks franchise history in what was a rain-shortened, 4-0 win. Devenski’s 0.59 ERA this season ranks second in all of minor league baseball.

A second-round pick by the Astros in 2014, IF A.J. Reed took home Lancaster’s May Player of the Month honors. Reed’s 10 homers in May were tied for the most in the minors with Singleton. In 28 total games during the month, he hit .327 with 29 RBIs and a 1.080 OPS. Reed currently leads the California League in home runs (13) and ranks second in RBIs (42) and fourth in OPS. RHP Joe Musgrove earned JetHawks’ May Pitcher of the Month honors after going 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA, 36 strikeouts and no walks in five games (three starts) with the club. Musgrove, who was named the Quad Cities April Pitcher of the Month, has recorded 59 strikeouts while walking just one batter in 49 2/3 innings between Lancaster (five games) and Quad Cities (five) this season.

C Jacob Nottingham was named the Quad Cities’ Player of the Month for May after hitting .355 with 13 extra-base hits (8 doubles, 1 triple, 4 homers), 20 RBI and a .997 OPS in 23 games. A sixth-round selection by the Astros in 2013, the 20-year old is leading the Midwest League in OPS (.956), while ranking fourth in homers (8) and batting average (.327). RHP Akeem Bostick won the River Bandits Pitcher of the Month award as he went 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA and just nine hits allowed (.125 opponents’ average) in four games (three starts) in May. Bostick was a second round pick by the Rangers in 2013, and was acquired by Houston on Jan. 21, 2015 in exchange for C Carlos Corporan.

Marisnick moved to leadoff spot

Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick has flourished hitting in front of Jose Altuve for much of this season, but after entering Saturday in a mini-slump (1-for-15 over his previous five games), manager A.J. Hinch was hoping moving him to the top of the order would do the trick.

Marisnick will still be hitting in front of Altuve, who was moved down to second against the Angels. Marisnick hit ninth the first two weeks of the season, with Altuve in the leadoff spot. Marisnick was hitting a scorching .382 through Sunday, but has one hit  since.

“His results haven’t been great, but I don’t call it struggling,” Hinch said. “He’s had a couple of games he hasn’t recorded as many hits as he did at the beginning of the season, but I wouldn’t say struggling is fair. He plays with a ton of energy, plays a terrific  defense.”

With Marisnick hitting leadoff, he figures to get at least one more at-bat per game, which could help him. Also, Marisnick has plenty of speed and Altuve has a great bat control, so the Astros will be able to embark on more hit and runs and push the tempo more. It also gives the Astros some team speed at the top.

“I’m not married to it,” Hinch said. “Things change quickly, but I like Marisnick and Altuve hitting back to back. When Marisnick was hot early, it was very tempting to move him in the order.”

Altuve hit second in the order much of last  year.

“I feel really comfortable in that position,” he said. “We’re also going to have Jake Marisnick getting one more at-bat, and for me he’s the best hitter right now on the team. That’s going to give your team one more chance to score a  run.”

Marisnick was a leadoff hitter coming through the Minor Leagues with the Marlins.

“Hopefully we feed off of each other and get rolling and get this offense going a little bit,” he said. “We’ve been struggling here the last couple of games. It would be nice to get rolling.”

 

Astros’ Minor League Players of Month

The Astros’ player development department has named April’s Minor League Pitchers and Players of the Month at each of their four in-season minor league affiliates (these awards are chosen every month by the field staff of each team):

At Triple-A Fresno, RHP Richard Rodriguez was named April Pitcher of the Month after going 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA in seven games during the month. The right-hander closed out April with three straight scoreless outings, spanning eight innings. Fresno’s Player of the Month award went to OF Preston Tucker, who led all of Minor League baseball in home runs (nine) and RBIs (29) during the month of April. The left-handed hitter batted .329  with a .371 on-base percentage and a .683 slugging percentage (1.054 OPS) during the month.

 RHP Chris Devenski fired 19 1/3 scoreless innings across four games (two starts) en route to getting named Double-A Corpus Christi’s Pitcher of the Month for April. Acquired by the Astros in the Brett Myers trade with the White Sox in 2012, Devenski was named the Texas League Pitcher of the Week for the week of April 20-26. He went 2-0 with 16 strikeouts and a .121 opponents’ batting average in April while leading the Texas League in ERA. SS Carlos Correa was named the Hooks’ Player of the Month for April after hitting .385 with 11 doubles, one triple, five homers, 22 RBIs, five steals and a 1.198 OPS in 19 April games. Ranked by MLB.com as the No. 3 prospect in baseball, Correa was named the Texas League Player of the Week for the week of April 20-26. During the month of April, he ranked among the top five Double A players in extra-base hits (first), doubles (first), slugging (first), OPS (first), hits (T-first), runs (19, T-first), RBIs (second), batting average (third) and homers (T-third).

At Class A Lancaster, RHP Tyler Brunnemann earned Pitcher of the Month honors after giving up just one run in 15 2/3 relief innings in April. Last year’s California League Championship Series MVP fanned 18 batters in his eight games during the month. The Astros 2014 Minor League Player of the Year, OF Brett Phillips, picked up right where he left off by claiming JetHawks’ Player of the Month honors this April. The left-handed hitter posted a .341 batting average with 13 extra-base hits (six doubles, three triples, four homers) and a 1.013 OPS in 20 games in April. Phillips ranked second in the California League in total bases (52) and fourth in OPS in April.

Class A Quad Cities Pitcher of the Month honors went to RHP Joe Musgrove, who went 3-1 with a 0.87 ERA and 20 strikeouts in four games (two starts) in April. Musgrove walked just one batter in his 20 2/3 innings, posting the fifth-lowest ERA in the Midwest League during the month. A 2014 draftee (13th round), C Jamie Ritchie received Quad Cities Player of the Month honors after hitting .344 with two doubles, one homer, seven RBIs and a .467 on-base percentage in 17 games in April. Ritchie finished second in the Midwest League in on-base percentage, fourth in OPS (.926) and sixth in batting average during the month.

Lowrie placed on DL; Villar called up

The Astros placed shortstop Jed Lowrie on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a still yet-to-be-diagnosed injury to his right thumb. Infielder Jonathan Villar was recalled from Triple-A Fresno and was in uniform for Tuesday’s game against the Padres.

Lowrie suffered the injury while sliding home in the eighth inning of Monday’s 9-4 win over the Padres at Petco Park and flew to Houston on Tuesday for an MRI. The club has not said exactly what the injury is or how long Lowrie is expected to be out.

Infielder Marwin Gonzalez figures to get the lion’s share of playing time at shortstop in Lowrie’s absence.

The injury comes at a bad time for Lowrie, who went 2-for-3 against the Padres on Monday and blasted his fourth homer of the season. Lowrie is hitting .476 (10-for-21) with a .621 on-base percentage during the current road trip in which the Astros have a 6-1 record.

In the eighth inning Monday, Lowrie was on second base when he raced home on a single by Colby Rasmus, saying his knee stuck in the dirt and caused him to land awkwardly on his thumb as he crossed the plate.

“I just stuck,” he said. “I’ve slid like that my whole life. I always slide on my left side and drag my knee across. Today it was like I just stuck. My knee hit and stuck and I flipped over and my hand was in the way.”

This is the eighth trip to the disabled list for Lowrie, who signed a three-year contract with the Astros in December. He was on the disabled list last year with Oakland with a fractured right index finger.

Astros-Mariners lineups

Astros vs. Mariners
Wednesday, April 22, 2015 – Safeco Field (9:10 pm)
Astros (8-6)   Mariners (5-9)
No. Player Pos.   No. Player Pos.
27 Jose Altuve 2B 7 Seth Smith (L) DH
18 Luis Valbuena (L) 3B 16 Austin Jackson CF
4 George Springer RF 22 Robinson Canó (L) 2B
11 Evan Gattis DH 23 Nelson Cruz RF
8 Jed Lowrie (S) SS 15 Kyle Seager (L) 3B
15 Jason Castro (L) C 20 Logan Morrison (L) 1B
23 Chris Carter 1B 13 Dustin Ackley (L) LF
28 Colby Rasmus (L) LF 5 Brad Miller (L) SS
6 Jake Marisnick CF 3 Mike Zunino C
Starting Pitcher Starting Pitcher
56 Roberto Hernandez (0-1, 3.37) RHP 33 J.A. Happ (0-1, 2.70) LHP

Astros-Mariners lineups

Astros vs. Mariners
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 – Safeco Field (9:10 pm)
Houston Astros (7-6)   Seattle Mariners (5-8)
No. Player Pos.   No. Player Pos.
27 Jose Altuve 2B 13 Dustin Ackley (L) LF
18 Luis Valbuena (L) 3B 16 Austin Jackson CF
4 George Springer RF 22 Robinson Canó (L) 2B
11 Evan Gattis DH 23 Nelson Cruz DH
15 Jason Castro (L) C 15 Kyle Seager (L) 3B
9 Marwin Gonzalez (S) SS 7 Seth Smith (L) RF
23 Chris Carter 1B 20 Logan Morrison (L) 1B
28 Colby Rasmus (L) LF 5 Brad Miller (L) SS
6 Jake Marisnick CF 3 Mike Zunino C
Starting Pitcher Starting Pitcher
31 Collin McHugh (2-0, 1.54) RHP 32 Taijuan Walker (0-2, 17.18) RHP

Astros-Mariners lineups

Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners
Monday, April 20, 2015 – Safeco Field (9:10 pm)
Houston Astros (6-6)   Seattle Mariners (5-7)
No. Player Pos.   No. Player
27 Jose Altuve 2B 16 Austin Jackson
18 Luis Valbuena (L) 3B 13 Dustin Ackley (L)
4 George Springer RF 22 Robinson Canó (L)
11 Evan Gattis DH 23 Nelson Cruz
8 Jed Lowrie (S) SS 15 Kyle Seager (L)
15 Jason Castro (L) C 7 Seth Smith (L)
9 Marwin Gonzalez (S) 1B 3 Mike Zunino
28 Colby Rasmus (L) LF 20 Logan Morrison (L)
6 Jake Marisnick CF 5 Brad Miller (L)
Starting Pitcher Starting Pitcher
59 Asher Wojciechowski (0-1, 4.50) RHP 18 Hisashi Iwakuma (0-1, 6.55)

Astros waiting for sluggers to explode

A week into the season, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he’s not concerned about the lack of production in the middle of his batting order. Through six games, the third, fourth and fifth spot in the Astros’ lineup were hitting .070 (4-for-57).

Those numbers are largely because of the struggles of designated hitter Evan Gattis (0-for-20) and Chris Carter (1-for-19), but they were back in the lineup for Monday’s series opener against the A’s. Carter sat out Sunday’s game after a tough game Saturday.

“I like that we’ve been able to keep our head above water a little bit without that kind of production – to hold serve or whatever analogy you want to use,” Hinch said. “It’s important for us to stay afloat while those guys are getting themselves on track.

“I don’t want to put any heightened press or expectations on them. They’re good players, good, productive offensive players. These 20, 25 at-bats, depending on when they happen, create different kinds of emotions for players. I don’t wake up thinking we have a problem in the middle of our order or these guys aren’t going to bounce back.”

Hinch had lunch with Gattis on Monday, but it was pure happenstance. He walked into Union State on Monday and Gattis was eating in the café in the lobby, and Hinch joined him. Gattis’ offensive woes never came up.

“You encourage them and continue to put them out there,” Hinch said. “These are our guys. They know that. Obviously, I’ve got a job to do to give them days off or get some sparkplugs in there if they are struggling. These guys know that we back them and they’re not going to continue to struggle in the production categories they have so far.”

Hinch reminded reporters the Astros have faced some tough pitching this year, including a Cleveland starting staff that was fourth in the AL in ERA and strikeouts last year.

“I think you have to put that into context as well,” he said. “These guys don’t go up to the batter’s box trying not to do something. … I don’t make too much out o fit, but I don’t leave it unaddressed.”

Astros set Minor League rosters

The Astros have set their preliminary 2015 Minor League rosters for four of their affiliates, Triple-A Fresno, Double-A Corpus Christi, Class A Lancaster and Class A Quad Cities. The announcement was made by Astros director of player Development Quinton McCracken.

These rosters are subject to change and will not be officially finalized until the Minor League Opening Day. Rosters do not include disabled list players.

Fresno:

PITCHERS

Buchanan, Jake

Chapman, Kevin*

Cruz, Luis*

Downs, Darin*

Hoyt, James

Jankowski, Jordan

Rodgers, Brady

Rodriguez, Richard

Shirley, Tommy*

Stoffel, Jason

Straily, Dan

White, Alex

CATCHERS

Flores, Luis

Stassi, Max

INFIELDERS

Dominguez, Matt

Duffy, Matt

Petit, Gregorio

Singleton, Jon*

Sclafani, Joe#

Torreyes, Ronnie

OUTFIELDERS

Aplin, Andrew*

Hoes, L.J.

Santana, Domingo

Sosa, Ruben#

Tucker, Preston*

Corpus Christi:

PITCHERS

Appel, Mark

Baez, Angel

Ballew, Travis

Devenski, Chris

Emanuel, Kent*

Hader, Josh*

Hauschild, Mike

Lambson, Mitch*

McCullers, Lance

Minor, Daniel

Perez, Tyson

West, Aaron

Westwood, Kyle

CATCHERS

Booth, Brett

Heineman, Tyler#

Pena, Roberto

INFIELDERS

Correa, Carlos

Fontana, Nolan*

Gregor, Conrad*

Kemp, Tony*

Mier, Jio

Moran, Colin*

Nash, Telvin

White, Tyler

OUTFIELDERS

Heras, Leo*

Hernandez, Teoscar

Kemmer, Jon*

Meredith, Brandon

Lancaster:

PITCHERS

Brunnemann, Tyler

Cotton, Chris*

Fant, Randall*

Feliz, Michael

Frias, Edison

Grills, Evan*

Holmes, Brian*

Houser, Adrian

Morton, Zach

Sanudo, Gonzalo

Scribner, Troy

Sims, Blaine*

Tiburcio, Frederick

CATCHERS

Holberton, Brian*

Morales, Jobduan#

INFIELDERS

Davis, JD

Fernandez, Jose

Mayfield, Jack

McDonald, Chase

Moon, Chan#

Reed, AJ*

OUTFIELDERS

Mitchell, Ronnie*

Phillips, Brett*

Ramsay, James*

Vasquez, Danry*

Wik, Marc*

Quad Cities:

PITCHERS

Chrismon, Austin

Comer, Kevin

Dykxhoorn, Brock

James, Joshua

Lee, Chris*

Mengden, Daniel

Minnis, Albert*

Montero, Jose

Musgrove, Joe

Peterson, Eric

Radziewski, Bryan*

Thompson, Ryan

Yuhl, Keegan

CATCHERS

Gonzalez, Alfredo

Nottingham, Jacob

Ritchie, Jamie

INFIELDERS

Hernandez, Alex

Hyde, Mott

Lindauer, Thomas

Muniz, Bryan

Tanielu, Nick

Trompiz, Kristian

OUTFIELDERS

Bottger, Ryan#

Boyd, Bobby*

Fisher, Derek*

Martinez, Jorge#

McMullen, Sean*

* – denotes left-hander

# – denotes switch-hitter

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 89 other followers