This is the 2016 version of the tombstone article for the Houston Astros playoff chances.
I never thought I would be writing an article saying that the Houston Astros season is over but it’s hard to deny it. The way the Astros have played the past three games, it’s hard to believe that they could build the momentum to go on a run. With seven games left, Houston has an elimination number of five.
Mathematically, the Astros are not out of it, but they are three games out of the wild-card chase. The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles are now the top dogs in the race. Houston could win out from this point. However, they would have to rely on many other good teams to lose more games than them.
The Blue Jays have a far better pitching rotation than Houston’s, the Orioles have the better offense, and the Tigers have been one of the hottest teams in baseball. To expect these teams to go on an extended slump at the end of the season is unrealistic. The last game the Astros play this season will be a week from today.
The Pujols’ Factor.
We all remember what Albert Pujols did to us more that a decade ago. He hit that homer off Brad Lidge to divert the series back to St. Louis. This homer caused the Astros to use Roy Oswalt then instead of Game 1 of the World Series. Eleven years later, Pujols and the Angels may have eliminated the Astros chances in 2016.
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While the Stros had dominated the Angels in the season, the tide turned Thursday night as Pujols does what he does. He has hit the most homers versus the Astros of any player in history. He gets the Angels offense going with a two-run blast. Friday night, Pujols went 3-3 while driving in a run and got the Angels going Saturday with a double scoring Mike Trout.
Once again, Pujols crushes the dreams of Houston fans. Over the next few days, I will write a series of articles on what went wrong for the Astros in 2016. We will look back at the past offseason and look at the moves that were made or not made. It could be argued that the decision to offer Colby Rasmus a qualifying offer changed the whole season.
A Look to the Future.
What cannot be argued is that the Stros have their backs up against the wall. They will likely fall short, which is amazing on its own when you look at how they started the year. There is still much to be excited about for the future, but there are too many holes on the current roster. The Stros have a strong core with Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and George Springer.
With the bullpen implosions over the past three games, it’s hard to see relief in sight. As the 2016 season begins, the hope for 2017 begins. With a few moves in the offseason, this team should be ready to compete. It would take a miracle to reach the playoffs in 2016, not sure the team has the talent needed.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***