Let’s see who has been trending downwards for the Astros since the beginning of July.
The Astros were recently on a six-game winning streak as they begin July on the right foot. The team is 61-32 and three games ahead of the Mariners for sole possession of first place in the AL West. More notably, they are percentage points and within arms reach of Alex Cora’s 63-29 Red Sox for best record in the American League.
This is one of those weeks where it’s difficult to pinpoint the downward trends. During the six-game winning streak, the Astros achieved back-to-back sweeps of the Rangers and White Sox. They outscored their opponent 43-21. Four of those six wins were by two runs or less, but two were blowouts of six and seven runs. Nonetheless, there’s always something to take note of despite their winning ways. Let’s dive into this week’s downward trends.
Trending Down: George Springer
I left him off the “Trending Down” list last week, but this will make approximately four straight weeks of Springer’s current slump. In his last 26 games before Monday, Springer has seen 97 at-bats and managed only 14 hits for a dismal .144 batting average. He has not had a multi-hit game since June 10th, thus the start of his month-long slump. In this time frame he’s had 14 hit-less games and 10 single hit games. Springer has struck out 24 times in those 97 at-bats and his batting average has fallen to .248, his lowest since late April.
In those six games, he was 4-for-23 for .174 batting average. He has driven in just one run. This last week, Springer struck out a whopping eight times. We’re not sure what’s going on with the World Series MVP, but the team is winning despite this elongated struggle. Just imagine what happens once he breaks out of this funk. Hopefully the upcoming All-Star break will provide rest and he can come out the other end with a second half resurgence.
Trending Down: Tony Kemp
It’s really hard to pin point any downward trends this week. The team is finally rolling along like the Astros of old. The slumps of Springer and Marwin Gonzalez have been noticed but not broken down as much. They only other hitter with a .200 batting average or less is Kemp. In the past week, Kemp has seen 10 at-bats and mustered 2 hits. He has seen some pinch-hit games lately and getting quality playing time.
His average is .299, not bad but slowly dipping since his hot start. He mashed a two-run homer on July 3rd and is taking walks too. Kemp has earned five walks in the last six games while scoring two runs. The team optioned Jake Marisnick and brought up Kyle Tucker, so this is the time of year where manager AJ Hinch has the luxury of tinkering with the line-up to figure out who has what it takes come postseason time. I think Kemp will see more time and have quality at-bats in favorable match-ups.
Trending Down: Gerrit Cole
The “Cole Train” has slowed down a bit after steamrolling through the competition during the first half of this season. Albeit, it’s still moving steadily as evidenced by his start on Monday night. Before that start, his once sub two-ERA is now at 2.70 on the season. He is 9-2 in 18 games prior to Monday and still an ace behind Justin Verlander, who has also struggled a couple weeks ago.
In his last two starts before his game against the A’s, Cole went a combined eleven innings and allowed 13 hits and seven runs, five of which were earned. It’s the first time since May that Cole registered less than seven innings in back-to-back games. His second loss as an Astro came on June 29th which is two months in between losses. Not bad at all. So, why is he “Trending Down”? The hitting and the pitching has been on fire lately but we’re looking at trends. There really isn’t anything to nitpick at other than the names mentioned earlier in this article.
Cole in his last five starts has the highest ERA among starters with a 4.34 earned run average. He also has the least innings of work to show for that five-game stretch of just 29 innings averaging just under six innings per outing. I’m not complaining at all. Especially from a 9-2 starter. Just noticing a bit of decline in the “Cole Train”. Something to keep an eye on hoping the early season dominance returns. Monday’s start against the A’s was a step in the right direction.