The Houston Astros started the series off against the Oakland Athletics as winners of four of their last seven. Yeah, that isn’t a huge deal, but the Astros will take wins anyway they can get them. Really though, for the Astros, this season isn’t about winning ball games. It is about improving. Lately, the Astros were doing just that. The starting pitching was much better, and Jose Veras turning into a dominant closer. But, all good things have to come to an end. The Astros have had their fare share of disappoint against the A’s this season, and more or less of the same thing happened on Friday night when Veras blew his first save since early May.
One guy who really needed to be leader on this young is starting pitcher Lucas Harrell. As a rookie last season, he had an even 11-11 record and a sub four ERA. As a starter on last year’s Astros club, and this year’s for that matter, those are good stats. So far this year, Harrell has been really mediocre. But in his last start, he pitched seven innings of one run ball, and the lone run coming on a home run. Like all of the Astros’ pitchers, Harrell has had his home run problems, but after that really good start in Pittsburgh, the Astros had thought he turned a corner.
Last season, Harrell was a complete surprise for most people, except for himself. He battled all year long and kept the Astros in the majority of games. This season, however, it has been a different story. He isn’t keeping his pitches down, and he is giving up way to many home runs. It looks to me like Harrell is overthrowing everything, and trying to be the pitcher he was last season. While that would be nice, Harrell needs to remember to keep his pitches down and get ground ball outs, much like he did in Pittsburgh.
On Saturday, a nationally televised game, Harrell went out on the mound and breezed through the first inning. He looked like he had it going. In second inning, however, he was a completely different pitcher. He gave up a bunt single because the Astros defense was shifted around for a left-handed hitter to pull. I’m guessing that is what did it because he has expressed his thoughts about the shifts to Astros manager Bo Porter, and Harrell does not like shifts. You could tell he was frustrated by the bunt single, and it got to his head completely. He couldn’t get out of the second inning, and this start, which started off so good, became his worst start of the year.
Like Harrell said on Twitter after the game, “That was embarrassing.”