While the big league results haven't been there for the Astros this season, they should be pretty satisfied with the results being produced by their Minor League tandem pitching system.
On Wednesday night in Nashville, Jarred Cosart allowed one hit and struck out seven over five shutout innings as the Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks defeated the Sounds, 3-1.
The Astros' No. 4 prospect threw 45 of 76 pitches for strikes but walked three en route to his first win of the year. And despite retiring his last 10 batters, he was not happy with giving Nashville four baserunners over the first two innings.
"The first inning, you never want to walk the leadoff guy. I felt a little out of synch out of the windup. I felt great out of the stretch," Cosart said. "Go to the second inning and I gave up a leadoff broken-bat single, felt great in my delivery and then felt out of synch out of the stretch. The first two innings, I was a little out of synch."
"The third inning, everything started to click. I was able to throw my curveball and change early in the count to back up my fastball that had good life on it. I was locating it down in the zone. After the first two innings, I was pretty smooth from there."
With a plethora of pitching prospects throughout their Minor League system, the Astros have imposed a piggyback system, with two starters designated to pitch in each game. The result has been a 3.48 ERA for the organization's four full-season affiliates.
Perhaps most importantly, the pitchers have bought into it.
"Yeah, I have a pitch count, but our job now is to go to our pitch count and do our job and give our team a chance to win," Cosart said. "Anytime where I'm locked in, where I'm able to retire that many in a row, you selfishly want to go, but the Astros have a plan for us."
In fact, maintaining a low pitch count is helping the upper-level pitchers learn how to make their pitches count. In his last start, Cosart went four innings, allowing a run on three hits while throwing 75 pitches.
"I had a couple of innings where I got in a lot of deep counts in my first start and I was only able to go four and that's on me," the 22-year-old right-hander said. "We made a small improvement on getting my pitch count down and limiting 3-2 counts to help me go through five.
"At the lower levels, the hitters are all very aggressive. They're trying to really see the pitch and get it, and as a pitcher that's great. You can get a lot of quick outs and keep your pitch count down. Usually, the hitters in Triple-A are a lot more patient and tonight they saw I was executing pitches and they became more aggressive. And that worked in my favor."
Wes Musick followed Cosart and gave up one run on one hit with four strikeouts over three innings. Jose Valdez tossed a perfect ninth to earn his second save.
Jimmy Paredes slugged a two-run homer and Robbie Grossman, Houston's 18th-ranked prospect, reached base three times for the RedHawks.