The Astros Could Reemerge as Playoff Favorites Soon
As April came to a close, we saw the AL West favorites were struggling mightily. The Houston Astros were sitting at an abysmal 7-17 mark having lost 8 of their last ten contests. Having dug a seven-game hole in just 24 games, all the Twitter-verse were dooming the season over.
Well thankfully this isn’t a 24 game season, and in the 46 games since the Houston Astros have posted a record of 27-19. Even though they have seen the Rangers lead increase by four games over this span, the Astros are in striking distance of yet another Wild Card berth.
There are many things you can point towards when indicating the turnaround, but there are a few things that stick out to me.
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The bullpen has been unbelievable
For the greater part of 5 weeks now the Astros’ bullpen has been outstanding. I wrote an article on this very topic three weeks ago, and they have kept it up. Will Harris has been well, Will Harris. Ken Giles (even after Saturday night) has been much improved. Michael Feliz has been the one guy that seemingly came out of nowhere with a K/9 rate that makes you do a double-take. And while Gregorson and Sipp had their fair share of struggles early on they have also made a big turn around. Feeling comfortable after six innings are huge, and man we sure could have used this bullpen in the playoffs last season.
Carlos Gomez is producing
Bare with me here, because this has been a recent thing. Carlos Gomez is hitting .429 in the last seven days, but you can even stretch it out to the last calendar month, and he is hitting a respectable .273. There is no hiding how awful he has been for us collectively, while his presence at the plate has been rough nothing stands out to me more than when he let that ball drop in Boston which led to a very tough loss.
However, when Gomez is playing well, you enjoy watching his antics, and that is what we have seen these last few weeks. With a plethora of big hits and even bigger catches, it looks like we may have finally got the guy we traded for.
Jose Altuve is a beast, and there are no if and’s or but’s about it. The 5’6” phenom leads all Major League second sackers in average, OBP, OPS, hits, doubles, walks, and stolen bases. Altuve has led (at least) the AL in hits and stolen bases in each of the last two seasons, but he has gotten even better! Set to double his previous career high in BB he has got better pitches to drive and has turned into a doubles machine, he could knock in 80 runs this season. (The reason this is honorable mention is that this is a “duh”).
I fully expect Dallas Keuchel to return to form, maybe not CY Young form, but a guy who is an innings eater and can consistently give us quality starts. I expect Carlos Correa to return to form and carry the team on his back for stretches of games. It’s a long season fans, buckle up and get ready for the ride. With 90+ games left and only being 4.5 out of a playoff spot, it should be another exciting summer in Houston, Texas.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***