Keys for Astros in Playoff Push
Aug 1, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros center fielder Carlos Gomez (30) and left fielder Preston Tucker (20) celebrate shortstop Carlos Correa (1) two run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
At 61-49, the Astros are still in great position to reach the postseason for the first time since 2005. A 2.5 game lead over the Angels isn’t overwhelming, but it’s still a division lead. The Astros are already 1-1 in the final 54-game leg of the 2015 season, and another 26-28 record won’t get it done down the stretch.
Key #1: Consistent Starting Pitching
- Dallas Keuchel and Scott Kazmir must remain dominant at the top of the Astros’ rotation. It all starts at the top of the rotation in a playoff series.
- Collin McHugh: Just win, baby.
- Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez need to get back up to the MLB some time soon because they both are very talented and can help this team tremendously down the stretch. McCullers had a fumble on Monday night, but that one start certainly should not define his season.
Call to the Pen
Key #2: Lineup Holds Steady Until Springer Returns
- Altuve, Gomez, Correa is one of the best trios in baseball right now. That top of the order is scary good and must play that way for the Astros lineup to hit. When they go, the rest of the Astros go.
- SOMEONE PLEASE SOLVE THE FIRST BASE ISSUE!!!! Chris Carter is NOT the answer!
- Hank Conger and Jason Castro have hit very well in the last couple of weeks, and if they continue that trend, this lineup will be scary all the way down. Also, Conger really needs to work on throwing baserunners out. It’s almost like he’s giving them a free pass to second base now.
Key #3: A Shutdown Bullpen Must Be Born
- Just last night, Astros closer Luke Gregerson blew another save. The Astros will not be able to afford these blunders in a playoff series. Now that Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel are off the market, this unit must stick together and make sure that any lead entering the 7th inning is very safe.
- Will Harris won’t be as dominant, so it will be important for guys like Pat Neshek, Josh Fields, and Tony Sipp to stay on top of their games for the rest of this season.
The next 54 games will definitely be crazy, but if the Astros can take care of the 3 tasks mentioned above, they will be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason.
Next: Predictions for the End of the Season