, andJose Altuve
(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
In 2011, the Houston Astros lost 100+ games for the first time in franchise history (56-106). That season, they finished in dead last and were 40 games out of first place in the NL Central. With the team in rebuilding mode, it didn’t get any better the next two years as the Astros lost 107 games in 2012 and 111 games in 2013.
Only 10 other teams in MLB history had ever lost 100+ games for three years in a row, so the Astros goal heading into the 2014 season was simple: avoid 100 losses. Houston clinched accomplishing that feat with their 63rd win of the season on September 8th vs. the Seattle Mariners.
Now, with the team playing so well, the Astros have a chance to do something most fans didn’t expect: avoid 90 losses. With just 12 games left in the season, the Astros need to go just 6-6 vs. the Indians, Mariners, Rangers, and Mets to close out the year and finish 73-89.Dallas Keuchel
(Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports)
Since the All-Star Break, the Astros are 27-27 (54 games) and now 56-57 since May 11th (113 games). Their starters have a 2.12 ERA in the last 13 games and have gone 8-2 with 11 quality starts. Houston will go with a six-man rotation the rest of the season (Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Brett Oberholtzer, Brad Peacock, Scott Feldman, and Nick Tropeano) while All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve chases the franchise record for hits and slugger Chris Carter goes for the MLB Home Run title.
Interim manager Tom Lawless has gone 8-4 since taking over on September 1st for Bo Porter, but the Astros will close the season on a six-game road trip. Fortunately, they will still send Keuchel and McHugh to the mound two more times each and the Astros are now 28-24 in games started by either one of them.
If I had to guess, I think the Astros will end up going 6-6 and avoiding 90 losses. The Mariners are the only team on the Astros remaining schedule with a real chance of making the playoffs, so they will be the only ones playing for anything. The Indians have pretty much eliminated themselves with their poor play recently and the Rangers and Mets have been out of it for weeks.
I would feel much better about my prediction if I knew rookie phenom George Springer was coming back from his injury this season, but that looks very unlikely at this point. Still, I think the Astros will supplement their terrific pitching and continue to hit well to close out the year. What do you think?