With the Houston Astros still grinding their way through the final month of the season, with the playoffs in sight, I would like everyone to take a step away from the stress brought upon by this stretch run and simply enjoy this season for what it is; a miracle. At the time of writing this article, the Astros sit at an 84.5% chance of making the playoffs according to MLB.com playoff tracker. However, going into this season the Astros were viewed as more likely to contend for the #1 overall pick in next year’s draft as opposed to contending for a spot in the postseason. But, as it stands the Astros sit in quite unfamiliar waters; by my count only seven current Astros have experience in a pennant race; Chad Qualls, Scott Kazmir, Colby Rasmus, Pat Neshek, Hank Conger, Jed Lowrie, and Luke Gregerson. Seven out of the 28 men on the roster does not make this an experienced group.
Now I say all that to say this; this year does not boil down to playoffs or bust. Now I’m not trying to generalize but I’m starting to get a feel that Astros’ fans are starting to view the season in that light. I do also understand that no fan wants to get this close to tasting the playoffs, only to see the grind of the pennant race ultimately get the better of the team (I get that, I’m in the same boat). Up to this point in the season, the Astros have been outperforming all expectations, relying heavily on the likes of Dallas Kuechel, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, George Springer, and others. For all of these guys, this is their first taste of the brutality that is the September run for the post season.
Now not all is lost, in fact at the time of this article being posted, the Astros sit only one game back of the division title and firmly in the second wild-card. So I do believe that not only will the Astros make the post season, but I believe we will win the division, the team faces a massive uphill climb just to make it there.
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If you need proof of that, look no further than this month of September, in which the Astros currently own a mere 6 – 12 record. This team does not have the same experience to prepare them mentally for this grind that the other teams are relying on. The Yankees, Rangers, and Angels are all far more experienced in playoff grinds than the Astros. And yet we still seem to be in the thick of things coming into the final home stretch of the season.
While this season has been mostly revolving around the youth movement within the club, the true key to success from here on out is the seven players listed earlier. Without them, we truly have no chance of making a deep October run. I realize that sounds like a bold statement, but I stand firm that those seven guys will be the heart and soul of this team behind the scenes these next few weeks.