Saturday, June 03, 2006

Ouch! Wandy was absolutely pounded last night, giving up 7 runs, 6 hits and 5 walks while only recording 4 outs. Recently-promoted-from-AAA Chris Sampson came in and did a decent job in his first major-league appearance, giving up 3 ER in 5.2 innings.

In the best news of the day, we demoted Mike Gallo to AAA to make room for Sampson. Gallo had a 6.02 ERA and a 2.14 WHIP in 16 innings this year, and he looked even worse than that. Lefties were hitting .316 off him. Still want two lefties in the bullpen, Garner?

Let's talk about the Rocket coming back. First of all: I was wrong. I really didn't think Clemens would come back and said as much in past posts. Whoops. Now: who does he replace? According to the Chronicle, Fernando Nieve will be sent down. That makes our rotation Oswalt / Pettitte / Clemens / Wandy / Bucholz. Nice front three, again - rough bottom two. Let's ignore for a second the effect that Clemens will have on other Astros (Pettitte, bullpen, etc.) and just talk about what Clemens himself is likely to do.

Well, he put up a 1.87 ERA in 211.1 innings last year. Doing a little math it seems likely that he will pitch around 18 starts * 6.5 innings / start = 117 innings this year. In the first half of last year Clemens put up a 1.48 ERA in 122 innings. Can we expect that again? Maybe not exactly, but he's Roger Freaking Clemens. I'd guess around a 2.00-2.50 ERA.

Ok, now let's talk about the effect Roger might have on the rest of the team. First of all, it might just pump up his good buddy Andy Pettitte. Andy's main problem is batters are hitting .317 against him and he's already given up 12 HR's (17 all of last year). Both of these trends are unlikely to continue, and having Rocket there to cheer him on won't hurt either.

The bullpen should also benefit - Clemens is a lock to pitch more innings per start than Nieve, so Qualls, Wheeler and Lidge (79 IP combined) should get a little more rest.

Finally, the fans might benefit the most from Clemens returning. He guarantees a sellout crowd every 5th day, he gives us a boost, interest in the Astros shoots up, etc., etc. He makes the Astros exciting again.

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