The Houston Astros won six straight games, but that was a week ago. Today, they find themselves in the midst of a four game losing streak. Even though Erik Bedard was lit up on Saturday night, the Astros starting pitching has been consistently good even during this four-game losing streak.
Two big reasons why the starting pitching is getting better is, in large part, due to Lucas Harrell and Jordan Lyles.
For Harrell, the improvement is coming at the right time. He has had a torrid year so far, a year after what was thought to be his breakout season. Even though Harrell isn’t efficient enough to stay in the Astros rotation for much longer, he has certainly improved over his last three starts with a 1-1 record with a 1.83 ERA.
Harrell gets into trouble early, but once he settles in, it’s go time. On Saturday, he threw close to 60 pitches in the first two innings. However, in the next five innings, he threw right around 40 pitches.
For Lyles, his improvement comes as a bit of a surprise. For the last two seasons, Astros fans have witnessed his struggles. He was rushed into the majors at age 19, and looks to have finally put it together this season. Lyles has only given up more than three runs in one start, which happened against a potent Rangers lineup.
When I watch Lyles this year, I can’t help but think he could turn into a James Shields-type pitcher. He is coming into his own on the mound and has really turned into a tremendous competitor this year. He has shown a ton of maturity and has learned from his mistakes in the past seasons.
As the Astros starting pitching continues to improve, one thing remains certain: if the Astros want any type of success, their bullpen will have to hold games together instead of giving up leads.