Finding an identity
Apr 19, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros right fielder George Springer (4) and shortstop Jed Lowrie (8) celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The media and fans alike spent the first half of the season (rightfully so) asking, “Are the Astros the real deal?” “Can they sustain this pace?”
Yes, the Astros are the real deal. No, they aren’t as bad as they have been in the month of July. One bad month does not define or necessarily doom a team, but to help ease the pain of this month’s hitting woes, take a look at this potential line-up when Jed Lowrie and George Springer return from the DL:
Jul 3, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Houston Astros shortstopCarlos Correa
(1) congratulates second basemanJose Altuve
(27) after scoring a run during the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
- George Springer – RF
- Jose Altuve – 2B
- Carlos Correa – SS
- Evan Gattis – DH
- Luis Valbuena – 3B
- Jed Lowrie – 1B
- Preston Tucker/Colby Rasmus – LF
- Castro/ Conger – C
- Jake Marisnick – CF
See? Not so bad.
In the midst of all of this, the team and organization may have to make a decision on the all-or-nothing attack that has so often been identified with the 2015 Astros to this point. The team has hit 124 home runs this year — most in the league, and more than twice as many as the Atlanta Braves, 57; Philadelphia Phillies, 59; and Chicago White Sox, 60. They have also struck out 838 times while no other team has 800 strikeouts, and the Kansas City Royals have only struck out 501 times.
To this point, the Astros have shown they are just as capable of hitting four home runs in a game as they are incapable at times of making productive contact to move a runner from second to third with no outs.
So what happens for the Astros from here on out? That will largely depend on the team’s activity at the trade deadline and the health of young players experiencing the grind of a 162-game season.
If the Astros make a trade for a veteran pitcher to complement Dallas Keuchel, they will have one of the strongest starting rotations in the AL, but I believe they can survive without. If George Springer and Jed Lowrie return sooner rather than later, they will again have one of the most dangerous lineups in all of baseball.
The 2015 Astros are a very difficult team to predict right now. There are inevitably going to be more ups, downs, and growing pains, but it’s going to be fun to watch. We’re going to see Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers battle it out as teammates for the award of AL Rookie of the Year , cheer loudly in “Keuchel’s Korner” as the ace makes his case to be the AL Cy Young award winner, and call for the head of Chris Carter.
Get excited, Astros fans; this is the tip of the iceberg and likely the least consistent team you’re going to see for a long time.
- W-L: 88-74, Wild Card
- Team MVP: Dallas Keuchel
- Offensive MVP: Jose Altuve. I chose George Springer as my first-half offensive MVP, but Jose Altuve is returning to form after an uncharacteristic June, and that momentum should carry on throughout the rest of the season.
- Bold Prediction: Mark Appel will pitch in a playoff game for Houston in October.
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