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Astros Are Now Contenders for the Playoffs, No longer Favorites

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May 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) celebrates with second baseman Jose Altuve (27) after hitting a home run during the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) celebrates with second baseman Jose Altuve (27) after hitting a home run during the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Astros Will Have an Uphill Battle to Return to Contention

The Houston Astros are now sitting near the cellar of not just the AL West, but also in the American League and MLB. The Astros now have a 10-19 record, but people around baseball are not writing the Astros off quite yet. These opinions might be surprising for most fans who watch the Astros day in and day out, but the Astros have had a tough schedule to open the season. It didn’t help that many of the players ended up having a slump at the same time to start the season.

Fans probably kept saying to themselves, “I’m tired of hearing about how much talent this team has.” You can have all the talent in the world and not perform on the field. Look at the Houston Rockets, who were expected to go deeper in the playoffs than they did the previous year, but they ended up backing into the playoffs barely avoiding being swept. The Rockets could not play as a team, but the Astros chemistry is what could turn the 10-18 team into a team that is competing for the playoffs.

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There were so many expectations for the Astros coming into the 2016 season where the experts expected them to possibly of going to the World Series. Besides the injury of Lance McCullers and disappointing starts of Evan Gattis and Carlos Gomez, this talent that was expected to go to the playoffs is still there. The Astros had a tough loss last night on the Robinson Cano three-run triple that won the game.

As I mentioned earlier, the Astros are down, but not out. There are still 133 games left in the 2016 season. They currently sit 7.5 games behind the Mariners. However, the 2015 Rangers offer Astros fans some hope. The Astros need to take a long look at their 25-man roster and decide if they are doing the most to win. The weak links in the Astros lineup are at third base, designated hitter, center field, and catcher.

The starting rotation must improve, and the lineup needs to get more consistent, whether this means dumping Luis Valbuena, Erik Kratz, or someone else. The Astros rotation has a 9-14 record with a 5.07 ERA, which has failed too often to limit the damage. This Astros offense is good but is too streaky to have to put up five runs a game.

The Astros, despite the recent trades, according to Jim Bowden still have a deep farm system that they could use to acquire a front-line pitcher at the trade deadline. For the Astros to be buyers at the trade deadline, they will need to become competitors. Unless the Astros are really in the race, I hope we don’t see any more prospects traded for the 2016 season. Nothing is guaranteed this year, despite the praises from Sports Illustrated this offseason.

Nothing is guaranteed this year, notwithstanding the praises from Sports Illustrated this offseason. According to Bovada, the Astros chances of reaching the World Series in 2016 has dropped from 16/1 to start the season to the current 33/1. However, the Astros are not at the bottom of the rankings, and they are the 18th most likely team to reach the World Series. They started the season as the top three most likely to reach the World Series.

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Despite the slow start, many experts predict that the Astros will return to competition this year, but no longer expect that they will go to the World Series. Maybe the lowered expectations will help the Astros play better as the underdog like last season, but they need to start winning consistently. Maybe soon there will be a shakeup of the roster, need more production up and down the lineup. The days of being the favorites are over, let’s prove them wrong.

**Stats from Baseball-Reference***

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