The Astros dropped five of their last eight games, yet still hang on to a four-game lead in the AL West over the Mariners with a chance to extend that lead against Seattle this week.
The Astros are 3-and-5 coming out of the All Star break as the dog days of summer are officially here. The long season has taken a toll on the World Champs but with only 55 games left their focus is to get healthy, win the division and get the whole team on the same page. As there always is, some players stand out week to week with great performances. We will get into that in just a minute.
The ‘Stros will have a chance to really separate themselves as they aim to get healthy with bouts against the division rival Mariners. Looking ahead, they will stay out West for a rematch of the World Series against the Dodgers then on to San Francisco for two against the Giants then back home for a long weekend series against the Mariners. The month of August will be filled with division series and this will really gauge where the Astros stand as the post season approaches. Now, lets see who shined over the past week of play.
Trending Up: Tony Sipp
This is one of those weeks where it’s really hard to find players who stood out. When the team goes 3-for-5 and the offense scores 33 runs you have to look elsewhere. When the pitchers aren’t as dominant and giving up runs where else is there to look? The bullpen? As crazy as it seems we found a gem. Look no further than Sipp. The bullpen has been in shambles lately and with no big free agent signings, yet ladies and gentlemen this is your post season bullpen. But Sipp has shined. Lets focus on him for a minute, shall we?
In his last 8 starts in July, Sipp has lowered his ERA from 2.25 to 1.69 and has a perfect July at a 0.00 ERA. He’s allowed six hits in seven combined innings of work, allowing no runs. Pretty impressive. Sipp has also tallied ten strikeouts this month and walked just one batter. Sipp has certainly answered the call to the bullpen and we’re hoping this performance remains come playoffs.
Trending Up: Will Harris
Like I said, nothing seemed to go right last week when I put Harris on this list. My good buddy Daniel may think I’m trolling him by landing Harris on the trending up list but I’m not. Him and I both have a rocky relationship when it comes to this pitcher as it seems like he single handedly loses many games. But we are looking at trends, aren’t we? And in his last two outings on July 27th and 28th, Harris was brought in for an inning of work each time. He allowed zero hits and no runs striking out four total batters.
When he entered the game on the 27th against the Rangers, Dallas Keuchel and Brad Peacock had given up 5 earned runs. Harris pitched one shutout inning in the 7th before the floodgates opened with Cionel Perez and Chris Devenski allowing six more to the score board. On the 28th, Harris was called to relive Justin Verlander, who allowed two runs on nine hits being pulled after just five innings. Harris again came in for one shutout inning before Pressly and Rondon allow five runs more to hit the scoreboard board.
In fact, Sipp and Harris were what was working for the bullpen this week. If only these two unlikely candidates pitched like this when the rest of the team was rolling, then we’d have a decent bullpen.
Trending Up: George Springer
I’ve been waiting anxiously to get this guy back on here. And here he is. The 2017 World Series MVP returns to the trending up list. Too bad he makes his return when the team as a whole trends down. After a rough summer it seems like Springer is trending in the right direction. In his last eight games, Springer has seen 32 at-bats and connected on nine balls good for a .281 batting average. He drove in nine runs and scored seven of his own. The bat came alive as he went deep three times in the last eight games.
Springer struck out eight times, but also earned four walks in this frame. He’s been the hottest hitter on the roster coming off the All Star break, so we’re hoping this second half Springer is here to carry the team to the promise land as teammate Jose Altuve enters the DL and Carlos Correa looking to return. What a time to bounce back as he faces a Mariners team this week taking his .283 career average against James Paxton, Mike Leake and Wade LeBlanc whom Springer is a combined 11-for-35 against. Not only are the Astros hoping he continues to hit, they are counting on him to do so. Welcome back, Springer!