GURRIEL'S MASSIVE DAY LEADS TO ANOTHER EASY WIN

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 14-3 win

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 14-3 win
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Astros wrapped up their brief two-game series with Colorado in a Wednesday afternoon game. Here is a quick rundown of the final matchup of the quick two-game series:

Final Score: 14-3 Astros.

Record: 75-40, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Gerrit Cole, 14-5.

Losing pitcher: Peter Lambert, 2-3.

1) Oh, Yuli

Yuli Gurriel matched an Astros record with 8 RBI in one game, almost singlehandly beating the Rockies. Gurriel finished 2 for 4 and had a three-run homer, a double with the bases loaded, a sac fly and a fielder's choice RBI. But the offense was so good, they did not even need Gurriel to win this one. Alex Bregman also drove in three runs and the Astros put up a 9-spot on Colorado's starter, Lambert.

2) Cole blooded

Cole did his thing once again, tossing six innings, allowing two runs on three hits and striking out 10. Cole did not walk a batter. The Cy Young race appears to be down to Cole and teammate Justin Verlander.

3) How good is Yordan Alvarez?

No, he didn't drive in a run. But he added another three hits. The league has had plenty of time to adjust to him, and yet he is still hitting .340. Today was Gurriel's day, but the Astros are loaded with players who can dominant a game at any given time. Alvarez is yet another of those to go along with Gurriel, Carlos Correa, George Springer and Jose Altuve. What a huge addition.

Up next 

The Astros get a day off before heading to Baltimore for a three-game series against the struggling Orioles. The Astros will send out Wade Miley on Friday, Aaron Sanchez on Saturday and Justin Verlander on Sunday. The Orioles have the second worst record in the American League.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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How significant Astros spring training revelation highlights even more reasons for optimism

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.

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!

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