October is near, but the Astros have some unfinished business to tend to.
The Houston Astros are 94-55 and have opened a 4.5 game lead in the A.L. West with just 13 games left to play. The Astros began their final nine-game homestand taking 2 out of 3 from the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks this past weekend.
Strong showings by the offense and pitching were the keys to success. Over the last six games, the Astros are 5-1 outscoring opponents 30-22. The Astros wrap up their final homestand of the season with a three-game series against the (82-67) Seattle Mariners and a three-game bout with the (74-76) Los Angeles Angels. These remaining six home games will be the final in-division games of the season.
Some familiar faces return to the trending up the list. So, let’s dive into who is trending up this week.
Trending Up: George Springer
George Springer continues to trend up. That’s a sentence I love writing. In his last five games, Springer has seen 21 plate appearance and connected on nine swings for a .429 batting average. This line includes eight runs scored but no RBI, unfortunately.
Springer’s season batting average has climbed to .268 and has risen steadily since his return from the DL on August 26th. Since his return, the centerfielder is 28-74 for .379 in that span. Springer is getting hot at the right time as the postseason approaches. He lives for October baseball, and September is his primer.
Trending Up: Jose Altuve
The two hottest bats this past week belonged to Springer and Jose Altuve. With a baker’s dozen left to play, Altuve has re-located his swing. After starting off September going 0-11 through three games, he is now 12-47 for .255 on the month including 7-19 in his last five games.
Altuve has driven in two runs and scored five. He has only struck out twice and earned a pair of walks. He went deep once and stole a base. Not a bad week of work for the reigning AL MVP. Although he may not be considered in the MVP race this season due to missing games, he’s ready to play lights out in the postseason.
Trending Up: Justin Verlander
After waiting for what seemed like forever to notch his 200th career win, Verlander has won his last three starts. He’s a perfect 3-0 in September. In his last three games, Verlander pitched 21 innings combined allowing just 4 earned runs on 12 total hits for a 1.71 ERA through three games bring his season ERA to 2.67.
In that span, Verlander fanned 29 total batters and had 269 strikeouts on the season. The opposition is batting just .205 against him. He is slated to have two more regular season starts and has a chance to win 18 games for the first time since 2010. At 16-9, Verlander had maintained his lowest ERA since 2012 when he finished the season posting a 2.64.
Just a handful of wins away from his career year in 2011 when he went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, 2018 has been a great year for the veteran pitcher. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for October baseball to start.
*** Stats courtesy of baseball-reference and MLB.com ***