Astros: Marwin Gonzalez’s bat is covering for Carlos Correa
By Eric Huysman
When the Astros play a team like the Cleveland Indians, their offense needs to be firing on all cylinders.
Getting a commanding 2-0 lead in the best of five ALDS at home is excellent, but it’s even better because of how the Astros are scoring the runs. They hit four homers in the 7-2 win Friday and scored two runs to take the lead in the sixth inning off a hit by Marwin Gonzalez in Game 2. Alex Bregman has hit a homer in both games, but one player is having a better start to the playoffs.
Entering his final year under team control, Gonzalez was coming off a 2017 season where he led the Astros with 90 RBI and batted .303 via Baseball-Reference. This year was a little rocky for Gonzalez, but he heated up down the stretch. Many people expected some regression from the super utility player in 2018, but it was still surprising to see him only have 68 RBI and batting .247.
While Tony Kemp has stepped up this year as a regular left-fielder, the Astros still see Gonzalez as the better option in the playoffs. Last year, Gonzalez batted .158 with only one homer in the playoffs. This postseason, all two games and all, Gonzalez is off to a hot start batting .714. He had the key two-run double in yesterday’s game to drive in the go-ahead runs. The Indians tried bringing in a left to turn Gonzalez around, but that move ended up backfiring.
The Correa factor.
When a player has a 4-4 night in the playoffs, it normally means that the team got the win. Unless the player batting behind him is struggling like Carlos Correa is.
Last night, getting on-base was not an issue for the Astros as they had nine hits and four walks. The issue was the three runners on-base that Correa stranded and the six runners on-base that Martin Maldonado stranded. Fans all know how many double plays the Astros have hit into this year, but it hurts in the playoffs if runners get on base and the next batter can’t get the job done.
Correa is still searching for his first hit of the playoffs and made some good contact in Game 1 of the ALDS. Unfortunately, the hits are not falling for Correa who struggled ever since returning from the DL with his back pain. Whether its physical or mental, Correa’s struggles seem to still be here despite his great game in Baltimore with the homer and the double. Like any good hitter, all it takes is one hit to get you going. That’s what the Astros are hoping for.
Can the Astros win without Correa hitting? Yes, but it would be a lot easier if he was. I also don’t see AJ Hinch dropping Correa down in the order either. He is still helping defensively, and players like Gonzalez and Bregman are carrying the offense. However, the deeper the Astros go into the playoffs, the more they will need Correa’s bat to battle the elite teams in the AL and NL. We discussed this on last night’s Talking Stros.