Couple of Astros wins over the Cubs (against Wood and Prior!) since my last post.
Brandon Backe had another interesting outing in the first win (7-3), where he put up the following line:
Backe has managed a lot of strikeouts so far this year (7 BB, 28 K in 30.01 IP, an excellent ratio) , but he's also allowed a .298 batting average to hitters. I expect this number to drop a bit as the year progresses. One thing to note is that Backe is an extreme flyball pitcher (32 GB, 42 FB so far this year), so it is of utmost importance that we start our best defensive OF when he plays (in other words, no Lamb in LF).
The Astros drew 6 walks in that game, which is a good sign for a team that isn't going to hit for a great averae.
Roy Oswalt followed that yesterday with a subpar performance (for him), but he made big pitches when he needed to, and got a lot of help from the offense, particularly in the 5th inning, which went:
Flyout (Roy O)
HR (Lamb, on an 0-2 pitch)
This was also the first time this season that Garner has batted Taveras leadoff and Everett 7th. In fact, the lineup on Sunday (Taveras / Biggio / Bagwell / Lamb / Lane / Ensberg / Everett / Chavez / Oswalt) is probably about the best we can hope for until Lance gets back. I also like starting Lamb in LF fairly often until that happens - although he's pretty much a butcher defensively, left field at the Juice Box is ridiculously small, and Luke Scott and Chris Burke haven't done well so far.
I guess the question now becomes: what happens when Lance comes back? Oh yeah, and Zeke Astacio is set to start tomorrow, so one more person needs to go down.
My opinion: send Luke Scott and Eric Bruntlett down.
This gives you an OF of Berkman / Taveras / Lane / Palmeiro / Lamb (emergency), an IF of Ensberg / Everett / Biggio / Bagwell / Burke (MI) / Lamb (CI) / Viz (super-UTIL), and Ausmus / Chavez at C.
Ideally, both Lamb and Burke would see a lot of playing time, with Burke starting over Biggio at least once a week (I stand by my start-Burke-when-PettitteTheGroundballer-starts), filling in for Everett occasionally, while Lamb gives Bagwell a day off a week to rest his shoulder, and can occasionally spell Ensberg or Lane against tough righties.
Well, that's it, I guess. Oh, and I'm pretty sure Taveras is going to keep starting everyday in CF. He's been a success so far.