AutomotiveMap is the newest outlet from Gow Media. Courtesy graphic
This article originally appeared on CultureMap.
The automotive industry is now on the map. Gow Media, the large multi-platform media company with leading online destinations CultureMap, SportsMap, and InnovationMap, as well as sports radio properties ESPN 97.5 FM in Houston and SB Nation Radio, has announced the launch of its newest outlet, AutomotiveMap.
The new site will cover industry news from coast to coast, provide auto reviews, showcase innovation, and serve as a thoughtful guide to consumers.
"We are excited to add AutomotiveMap to our portfolio of media platforms," says David Gow, CEO of Gow Media. "We now have four content categories — culture, sports, innovation, and automotive — all under the 'map' brand identity. And we love that each of these categories taps into the passions of our audiences."
Eileen Falkenberg-Hull will serve as inaugural editor of AutomotiveMap. She brings 10 years of digital publishing experience to her new position and has covered the automotive segment exclusively for five years, with regular bylines in Trucks.com, U.S. News & World Report, and American City Business Journals. She is a co-host of Let's Talk Wheels on SB Nation Radio.
In her new role, Falkenberg-Hull will report to Arden Ward, vice president of editorial for Gow Media statewide. "Eileen is an outstanding addition to our team," says Ward. "Her enthusiasm for the auto industry is unmatched, and, as editor, she blends her extensive knowledge with an approachable voice that connects to our readers."
"I am thrilled to become part of Gow Media," says Falkenberg-Hull. "I have been impressed with the creative energy, professionalism, and commitment to storytelling that the team has. AutomotiveMap will be both informative and highly engaging; it will educate consumers and delight enthusiasts."
AutomotiveMap is the latest addition to Gow Media's ever-growing portfolio. Since acquiring CultureMap in February of 2017, Gow has launched SportsMap; InnovationMap; and GiftingMap, an ecommerce site.
"Our other site launches are going very well — we are experiencing tremendous audience and revenue growth — enabling us to step out again with AutomotiveMap," says David Gow.
The Houston Astros had a very successful season in 2023 which led them back to the ALCS for the seventh-straight season, but despite another deep playoff run, their pitching did regress from the prior year.
While many would point to their historic bullpen in 2022 and say they had nowhere to go but down, that doesn't paint the full picture. It was the starting rotation that really fell off in 2023. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown, and Jose Urquidy all saw a spike in their ERAs from the previous season.
According to a recent report from The Athletic's Chandler Rome, we might have an explanation for Jose Urquidy's down year.
The Astros and Urquidy believe he was tipping his pitches. Which would explain why the slugging percentage against his fastball jumped from .482 in 2022 to .632 in 2023.
José Urquidy said he discovered this offseason that he was tipping some of his pitches by how he moved/squeezed his glove in his delivery. He worked this winter to solve that in addition to strengthening his lat/shoulder area where he got hurt last season.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 27, 2024
When hitters know a pitcher is tipping, they often start hunting fastballs. Also, his strikeout percentage went down last year and his walks went way up. He had 2 more walks per nine innings in 2023 than he had in 2021.
Part of that could be him aiming for corners and refusing to give in to hitters because his fastball wasn't performing up to expectations.
His WHIP in 2023 really jumped off the page as well. He finished with a WHIP over 1.4. While his career WHIP is 1.143. That's a huge difference.
Back to the big picture
Until last season, Urquidy never finished with an ERA over 3.95. He recorded a 5.29 ERA last year. So when we factor in his shoulder injury that cost him three months of the season, and the fact he was tipping pitches, we believe he's in store for a bounce-back season.
And the Astros are going to need him, especially with Justin Verlander and JP France possibly not being available for the start of the season.
What will the rotation look like early on?
The Astros haven't ruled Verlander out yet, so he could be ready to go. But if not, and we base this off what we saw last season. The rotation will likely include Valdez, Javier, Brown, Urquidy, Ronel Blanco, and Brandon Bielak.
Don't miss the video above for the full discussion!
Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) with Charlie Pallilo, Brandon Strange, and Josh Jordan every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.
We'll continue to drop videos throughout the week!