Houston Astros: What if there is a tie with the Anaheim Angels for Wild-Card?
By Eric Huysman
The Houston Astros have been bullied all month-long by the meanies in the AL West as well as other teams occasionally. The Astros offense has been much more improved in September, as the Astros’ hitters have a slash line of .268/ .333/ .480/ .813, which all represent a season high. The Astros’ hitters have also hit 42 homers and driven in 118 runs while posting their second-lowest strikeout total with 191. (Stats from Baseball-Reference)
Why do the Astros have a 10-16 record in September? Because, their pitching has imploded this month with a 4.91 ERA, which is an outlier to the what the staff has done all season. The Astros pitching staff has a 3.57 ERA for the season that is the top in the American League, followed by Cleveland’s 3.73 ERA (According to ESPN’s teams stats). What has led to this implosion? They have allowed a season-high 37 homers and 131 runs scored this month. The teams’ WHIP is the highest of the season as well with a 1.331 WHIP, which is far above the season’s 1.200 WHIP. Allowing more runners to get on base via the walk or hit, followed by a blast, that does not equal up to quality starts.
During September, the Astros have lost their division lead to the Texas Rangers and recently lost their hold on the second wild-card slot to the Anaheim Angels on Tuesday night. They lost last night to the Athletics, with the Astros win/loss, they are now ahead/behind the Astros for the wild-card slot. With all the possibilities of a three-way tie for the AL. West, I will focus only on the Angels for this post. I will do one looking at any three or four-way ties later today.
There are a few different combinations of how the Astros and Angels could tie, but I’m going to go with one scenario, but how they tie doesn’t really matter. With the Astros win last night, the Astros could win two of the three games in Arizona, and the Angels win three of four versus the Rangers. If this were to happen, the Astros and Angels would finish with an 86 – 76 record. The Astros barely squeezed out with the season head-to-head record versus the Angels with a 10-9 record this season.
This record means that if necessary, the Astros will have home field for the one game play-in game on Monday. The pitcher lined up to pitch that game would be either Mike Fiers or Scott Kazmir. If the Astros choose to, they could pitch Fiers on Sunday and pitch Lance McCullers Jr. on Monday. Either way, Dallas Keuchel would be able to pitch on short rest on Tuesday in a potential Wild-Card game.
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The Astros have scored 90 runs while allowing 77 in the season series. Should the Astros win the wild-card play-in game, they would then fly from Houston to New York to play the Yankees in a one game play-in game there. Should they win that game, they have played well in New York, they will them begin the AL Division Series north of the border in Toronto to face the Blue Jays.
It is not a desirable matchup for the Astros with David Price in the picture and the Jays leading the AL in homers in 2015. However, anything can happen once you reach the playoffs. Remember ten years ago, an offensively challenged 2005 Astros made it to the World Series. This team is more even between offense and pitching, so this team could surprise if they get there. The next four days could be majorly stressful.
Next: For the Houston Astros, Multi-Homerun Games is not a Problem