Two games into the 2017 has equated into two victories for the Astros. So far, this is a successful start.
The one area that seems to separate the Astros from other contenders is the starting rotation. No surprise there as the rotation did struggle at times, though, it wasn’t quite as bad as some made it out to be.
Anyway, the offense has been designed to be the Astros best quality. It’s hard to argue this stance when you see how the batting order should stack up for most games.
Baseball has a way though of making teams win even when their best quality isn’t performing at an optimal level. For example, the Astros offense in the first two games of the season has been relatively absent. All in all, three runs in two games. Before you overreact, please remember that this sample size will not be indicative of the lineup’s performance for an entire season. If you have any complaints, please wait till after the first month of the season.
So how did the Astros win these two games? Pitching, my friend. Good, old fashioned quality pitching.
The two pitchers that epitomized the 2016 team’s struggles in the starting rotation was Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers. But this was mainly due to injuries. Besides the acquisition of Charlie Morton, the Astros front office did little to address the rotation. This essentially means that the Astros were leaning on the improved health of Keuchel and McCullers to help lead the bullpen.
The Astros may be rewarded handsomely for this somewhat bold strategy. When’s healthy, both pitchers have front end staying power. And in the first two games, the team has benefitted in the form of effective pitching. Keuchel, for example, managed to rediscover a bit of his 2015 magic on Opening Day.
And McCullers had the look of a pitcher ready to go the distance for the Astros in 2017.
Even the bullpen has been performing well, especially Ken Giles. You may recall his debut with the club last year didn’t go well. The fact that he finished two close games back-to-back is encouraging.
As I write all of this, I’m also knocking on wood. There is no telling how their health will hold up all season as is the case with most pitchers.
If these pitchers hold up, the team’s plan would like look quite ingenious. If not, well, you know the drill. And while the offense will help offset these pitching issues as they arise to a certain degree.
**Statistics courtesy of MLB.com**