For the month of May, the Houston Astros posted a 15-14 record. That was the first time since September of 2010 that the club posted a winning record in a full month of play. Everything seemed to work for the Astros. The bullpen additions, the addition of George Springer ignited the offense, and solid pitching brought some energy to the club. The question for the month of June is: can they sustain a winning culture?
The organization has preached the future is bright for a while now. With top prospects at every level in the system, it surely appears that the sales pitch is true. But fans are interested in what matters: winning at the major league level. Last month featured the team coming together. Whether their background was a veteran serving as depth elsewhere in the majors, being a waiver claim, young talent, or cornerstones established during the 2013 season, the team played well together.
Obviously there were standout performances by those who won a weekly or a monthly award during May. I would like to again recognize Dallas Keuchel and George Springer for being named AL Player of the Week and AL Rookie of the Month, respectively.
Though these were the guys who stood out, there were several others who are going beyond expectations. Jose Altuve, in year 1 of his contract extension, has taken the lead for all of MLB in hits. With a batting average well over his career clip, can he sustain that level of play? Altuve and Springer at the top-of-the-order gave the Astros a lot of life and set up a stretch of offensive successes.
Chris Carter, perhaps somewhat quietly, hit 5 home runs and had a batting average of .232 for the month of May. Many people were asking for his release ASAP, including myself. But he is likely here to stay.
Astros pitching, both starters AND relievers, showed value in the month of May. A 3.46 starting ERA was aided by Keuchel as well as solid starts from Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock. The starters’ ability to work deep into the game was bested only by the Seattle Mariners. The bullpen was very thankful of that as they combined for a nice 3.35 ERA collecting 4 saves in 6 opportunities.
Top Prospect Promoted
So now the team is preparing to continue to add prospects. Jon Singleton will likely struggle for a little bit while he gets acclimated to the major leagues. But his first hit was a home run and has shown some good plate discipline.
Looking Forward into June
After dropping the first game of the month, the Astros went on to win 2 of 3 games against the Angels. Next on their agenda is a 5-day road trip to Minnesota and Arizona. So far the Twins are at .500 while the Diamondbacks have struggled out of the gates. The D-backs will visit Houston for the second half of the home-and-away four game series. Then the Tampa Bay Rays visit for 3 games in Houston. The Astros will go back on the road for 2 games in D.C. prior to a 4-game set against the Rays to conclude the season series.
The last week of June is going to be the toughest play for the young Astros. While they are at home to finish the month, Atlanta visits for a 3-game set before the Detroit Tigers come in for a 3-game set. The month of June concludes with game one of a 3-game series with the Mariners, which will transition the club into July.
As of the results of MLB action on June 5th, most of these clubs are just barely under/above the .500 mark. If the Astros want to post a winning record, they must take advance of the four games against the Diamondbacks (26-36) and the 7 games against the Tampa Bay Rays (23-38).
Overall I think this team has the potential to get out of the cellar of the AL West. Go Stros! #DefendHouston