Astros AM: Let the Good Times Roll
Just when the Houston Astros looked down and out, the team manages to climb its way back into the playoff race.
Even though the AL West appears to be out of reach as the Texas Rangers maintain an eight game lead over the Astros, the AL Wild Card is still very much in play. Entering today the Astros are currently just 3.5 games behind the Orioles for the second wild card spot.
You can thank the team’s latest four game winning streak in Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
The good times are rolling for the Astros following a rough month since the All-Star game. And you can attribute that to the emergence of the rookies.
For one, Alex Bregman has stepped up recently. In the six games prior to last night, the LSU product has hit .393/.433/.786 with three home runs. Don’t forget that Bregman did start his major league career on an 1-for-32 skid. His improvement over the last few weeks has been one reason why the offense has transformed back into a respectable unit.
Another rookie making some noise is Teoscar Hernandez.
While he does not carry the same hype as Bregman, Hernandez has become a valuable member of the Astros in his short time with the major league club. In just 29 at-bats prior to last night the 23-year old outfielder has already hit two home runs which have provided a jolt to the offense. That was especially true last night as his third home run allowed the Astros to jump to an early 2-0 lead in Pittsburgh.
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A.J. Reed has also started to swing the bat well as of late as he has hit .313/.405/.500 in his last ten games prior to Monday. Along with the call up of Joe Musgrove has provided the rotation some stability with Lance McCullers still on the mend.
The offense outside of the rookies has also managed to awaken from their slumber.
Jose Altuve in his past twelve games entering Monday has hit an incredible .442/.473/.673. Carlos Correa and George Springer have combined to hit six home runs and 27 RBI over the last fourteen days. Between their outstanding production and the rookie’s emergence, the Astros offense has looked the part of playoff-caliber one.
This has been especially crucial as the pitching staff has witnessed some meltdowns. Collin McHugh has given up eight home runs in August. Dallas Keuchel has seen his fair of good and bad starts. The same can be said of Doug Fister and Mike Fiers.
But the staff as a whole may be turning the corner as the bullpen has become less shaky with Ken Giles as the closer and Will Harris returning as the set up man. A healthy Luke Gregerson goes a long way as well. And Keuchel and Fister have thrown two solid starts in a row to help the offense out.
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There is no telling how long this current winning streak will last. This team has been through this exact same pattern throughout the season. Lose a few games then win a few games. And once the Astros really do seem on the rise, they are hit with another prolonged losing streak. Let’s just hope that the good times roll last a while longer than before. All the way to October sounds good.
**Statistics provided by Baseball Reference**