Astros: The Difference the Month of April Can Make
Ballgames in April will not make-or-break a team’s season. At least immediately. The Astros found that out the hard way last year. But so far it appears that they’ve learned their lesson in 2017.
If I accurately recall, I was in the Florida Keys on vacation while the Astros were in the middle of their April tailspin last year. I do remember anxiously checking my phone numerous times just to see the depressing reality that the Astros weren’t a good baseball team. At least by the results that matter: the win-loss column.
At the end of the day, or month in this particular situation, the Astros finished last April with a 7-17 record. It was quite a dreadful, in the baseball sense, start to their 2016 season. For example, Dallas Keuchel and his beard became mortal as he allowed a .308 wOBA to opposing hitters. The season before, which was Keuchel’s Cy Young year, his opponents wOBA was .170 in that first month. Yes, it was quite the precarious change.
The bearded one’s rotation mates didn’t fare much better in that first month. Some didn’t even fare better as exemplified by Collin McHugh and his .407 wOBA last April. Lance McCullers was on the shelf to start that season if my memory doesn’t betray me. Essentially, Mike Fiers and Doug Fister were counted upon to stop the bleeding when possible. Let’s just say that didn’t happen as much as the Astros would’ve liked. The same issues carried over into the bullpen as Ken Giles (.433 wOBA allowed) and Tony Sipp (.414 wOBA allowed) pitched at a less-than-optimal level.
The offense was a little less troublesome as they ranked twelfth in collective wRC+. Unfortunately, their wRC+ was a 98, which is slightly below average. Combine this with an inconsistent pitching staff and it is no wonder that the Astros started the 2016 season behind the eight-ball.