There are two things you’re probably thinking right now. No. 1, it’s Spring Training, who cares? No. 2, a 5-1 loss hardly seems like a pitching showcase. Well, it all starts in Spring Training, and aside from one five-run inning, the Houston Astros pitched brilliantly.
A lot of pitchers who Astros fans have been waiting to see pitched on Saturday against the Detroit Tigers, and with the exception of Brad Peacock, they were all fantastic if not perfect.
Scott Feldman, perhaps the biggest offseason acquisition for the Astros, threw two scoreless innings, surrendering only a hit.
Jason Stoffel, another possible salvage piece from the Michael Bourn trade, threw one perfect inning. Colin McHugh and Jake Buchanan followed that with two innings of scoreless ball, striking out three. Highly-touted Mike Foltynewicz closed it out with two innings of one-hit ball.
So again, aside from Peacock’s one inning, the Astros’ staff pitched masterfully from some sources who they really want to see production out of.
Stoffel is a darkhorse closer candidate who converted 27 saves in the minors in 2012. He wasn’t featured much as a closer in 2013, but his 3.23 ERA with only two home runs surrendered in 69.2 innings make him a strong candidate to be assisting in the bullpen come April.
McHugh is another darkhorse, but for the starting rotation. He has always been a minor league success story. His major league numbers have left much to be desired, but perhaps a prolonged opportunity is all he needs.
Buchanan was one of the more exciting stories of the Astros 2013 minor league season. He went 12-7 with a 2.96 ERA in 158.1 innings pitched across Double-A and Triple-A. He only walked 22 in that span, so the big leagues may not be too far away from him.
Not much needs to be said of Foltynewicz. He projects to be on a beeline for the Astros starting rotation at some point in the coming years, it’s just a matter of when. This year isn’t the most likely of scenarios, but who knows.
Overall, despite the loss, there were plenty of positives to pull from the game. In two Spring Training games, we’ve seen the Astros’ offense dominate and the Astros’ pitching dominate, on two separate occasions. Now it’s just a matter of pulling the two together.