Astros: State of the Team

codypoage
Apr 13, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Scott Feldman (46) reacts as manager A.J. Hinch (14) makes a pitching change during the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Scott Feldman (46) reacts as manager A.J. Hinch (14) makes a pitching change during the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Shoddy. Substandard. Crummy. Dreadful. Inferior. Each of these adjectives, and many more, accurately describe the Astros thus far in 2016.

Needless to say, the Astros are hoping the rest of the season is not quite as abysmal as their 7-17 start to the month of April. And us, the fans, hope so as well.

So where do the Astros go from here? After all, there appears to be nowhere else to go but up.

That is the primary concept of hope at this point in 2016. Honestly, a 7-17 record isn’t a hole that the Astros can climb themselves out of as the season progresses. Don’t forget that the Texas Rangers, who started the 2015 season at 7-15, ended up winning the AL West. Now that isn’t saying that the Astros will pull off the same feat. There are some noticeable flaws on this team that may continue to derail the team in May and beyond. However, the possibility of a comeback exists.

But for that comeback to actually become a reality instead of a pipe dream, then the Astros will have to address various issues in the month of May. One such issue is the lack of production from the lineup, especially with runners in scoring position. Outside of Colby Rasmus and Jose Altuve, there isn’t a single Astro hitting above .300 with runners in scoring position in the month of April. The only other hitter with a batting average above .270 in the same situation is Tyler White.

Another is the implosion of a pitching staff that was considered the strength of the Astros heading into the 2016 season. The struggles of Ken Giles have been well documented and the young flamethrower now finds himself being “demoted” the eighth inning role. The trio of Scott Feldman, Doug Fister, and Mike Fiers has not manage to inspire much confidence. Even the duo of Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh has been inconsistent at best. And the absence of Lance McCullers has proven to be problematic at best. This is especially true when considering that none of the Astros current starters are known for lighting up the radar gun.

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A return to the fundamentals could be in order as well. The Astros as a team has seen their BsR drop from 4.5 last April to -2.2 this most recent April. Questionable judgement calls on stealing bases (see Carlos Gomez) or trying to take the extra base at inopportune times (see Altuve) have been an issue, and one reason why the offense bogs down more times than not. This partly falls on the coaching staff led by A.J. Hinch.

The way and the manner the Astros have played in 2016 has to raise the question whether the 2015 season was an anomaly. After that infamous ten-game winning streak one calendar year ago, the Astros have been a below .500 ball club. As good as Keuchel, Altuve, and Carlos Correa were last year, this team has floundered more times than not. But help could be on the way with Colin Moran and A.J. Reed making cases for promotion to the majors at some point this season. And the return of McCullers could help qualm some of the rotation woes.

Next: Houston Astros: Five Ways the Astros Can Improve in May

Hopefully the month of April will be a bump in the long road as the Astros attempt in their return to relevancy in 2016. There is talent scattered throughout this team and organization. But this team has also underperformed, plain and simple. Maybe the month of May will be better. Who knows, but I am sure we are all glad that the month of April is over.

**Statistics provided by Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference**

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