Astros: Three players trending up in early July

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 22: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park on June 22, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 22: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park on June 22, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Despite Monday’s loss, the Astros are trending in the right direction in early July.

The Astros are sole possessors of first place in the AL West over the Mariners by three games. You can thanks the six-game win streak and consecutive series sweeps of the Rangers and White Sox. The team is rolling at 61-32 and they are tied for second place in the American League with the Yankees, only trailing the Red Sox who are 63-29.

This is one of those weeks where everything went right. Didn’t I say the schedule provided some relief? Yes, I did. And there’s more opportunities to come. Some of these wins were close. In fact, four of the six wins were by 2 runs or less with a couple blowouts mixed in. The Astros outscored their opponents 43-23 this past week.

The remedy continues with a three more games against the Athletics and a three-game set versus the Tigers before the All-Star break, which begins on Monday July 16th. Let’s take a look at who stood out this past week.

Trending Up: Jose Altuve

The American League MVP and All-Star, Altuve had himself a week. It’s no surprise that he is on this list. In the past week, Altuve has seen 24 at-bats and connected on eight hits for a .333 batting average.  This line includes six runs, three batted in himself, two home runs (one being sent deep to the tracks) four walks, four strikeouts, and one stolen base. Impressive.

The second baseman is currently on a five-game hit streak but that’s nothing new. His batting average is now a .338. His slugging percentage is trending in the right direction at a .536 for July and his on-base percentage is climbing too, now at .404 on the season.

Altuve has the most hits in the baseball with 123. His batting average of .337 is second best to only Mookie Betts. But Altuve has 86 more at-bats, so take that for what it’s worth. The Mid-Summer Classic is coming up, and it’ll be exciting to watch what the six-time All-Star can do against the best of the best.

Trending Up: Yuli Gurriel

Well. I called him out last week and he answered. Gurriel has found a new home, for at least a week on the “Trending Up” list. After a rocky week last week, Gurriel stepped up to the plate for 21 at-bats and nine hits in six outings for a .429 batting average on the week. No one had a better week than Gurriel.

This line includes seven runs scored and driving in nine of his own. Yes, nine RBI on the week. A six-game hit streak includes 3 multi-hit games striking out only four times. On July 7th, his stand out game, Gurriel was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer and four total RBI in a 12-6 win against the White Sox. His batting average is now .303 on the season and slugging a .441 also. Talk about a bounce back week, this is the definition of a bounce back week.

Trending Up: Dallas Keuchel

I’m not going to beat around the bush. I’m thrilled to have the former Cy Young back on this list. After staring 3-8 on the season, Keuchel has won two straight and hasn’t notched a loss since June 5th. His last two outings were vintage Dallas though, allowing many hits. Cody Poage mentions that the ground balls were his best friend. In July, Keuchel has pitched two straight seven-inning games while allowing eleven total hits respectively. He also allowed three earned runs over this stretch.

More importantly, Keuchel tallied marks in the right column bringing his season record to 6-8, thus trending in the positive direction like we all hoped. Better late than never. These wins couldn’t have come in a better time either. Fellow ace, Justin Verlander has struggled a little in his last two outings, so a sign of relief when Dallas returns with a couple wins in a six-game win streak.

Next: Astroball gives fans a look at the people behind the WS Champs

Keuchel’ s ERA his dipped belowfour for the first time since late May and is now a 3.95 on the season. Opponent batting average has now dipped to .263 with a WHIP of 1.31 on the year. So, whatever he is doing to achieve great results, hope he keeps it up. Glad to have you trending in the right direction. This pitching staff is scary good if he’s now trending up.