Here are our five key takeaways from the Houston Astros series win against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
For the second consecutive series, the Houston Astros managed an ugly series win against a last-place team. This time it came against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and it looks to be the final time the Astros will play at Minute Maid Park this year. At the very least, they went out with a win.
There are still some concerns about this team as it inches ever closer to clinching a playoff spot, as the offense continues to struggle. But they’re back above .500 at 27-26 on the year, clinging to a 3.5-game lead for second place in the AL West with seven games left. The best way to summarize this series is to say they did just enough to win it.
Zack Greinke wasn’t particularly sharp on Friday and the bullpen didn’t help much as the offense just couldn’t get the job done. The Astros still struggled to score on Saturday and Sunday, but the pitching staff did just enough to ensure a pair of victories in the team’s final two games of the regular season. Here are our five key takeaways from this series.
Springer Heats Up
George Springer will become a free agent after this season, and if this truly was his last time playing for the home team in Minute Maid Park, he went out in style. He homered three times in this series, one of which was inside the park, although unfortunately all three were solo shots.
He’s hit safely in 17 of his past 18 games and has hit .333 with eight homers over that stretch. It’s raised his season average from .194 to .253 and given him a respectable season slash line as he looks to cash in big time this winter.
Brantley, Tucker Showing Consistency
Two of the team’s best hitters this season have continued to make an impact. Michael Brantley went 4-for-11 with a walk in this series, while Kyle Tucker went 3-for-9 with two walks and two RBIs. While many other hitters haven’t been pulling their weight, these two have been the most valuable for the Astros this season.
Bullpen Steps Up
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The Astros much-maligned bullpen didn’t do the team any favors on Friday as the combination of Luis Garcia and Blake Taylor allowed three runs. But the unit turned around and delivered eight scoreless innings on Saturday and Sunday combined, allowing just one hit and two walks.
Andre Scrubb threw three scoreless innings in this series and Ryan Pressly and Enoli Paredes each threw two, with Pressly recording a pair of saves. These are some of the players who’ll have to be at their best if the Astros are going to have any hope of advancing in the postseason.
Offense Still Struggling
Scoring nine runs in three games isn’t awful, so at least that’s some improvement. But the Astros as a team hit .190 with runners in scoring position in this series. Jose Altuve went 2-for-11 at the plate, Yuli Gurriel went 1-for-8, Carlos Correa went 1-for-10, Josh Reddick went 1-for-7, and the catching tandem of Martin Maldonado and Dustin Garneau was 0-for-8. In other words, there’s still more to do for this lineup to be postseason ready.
Jose Urquidy put up another solid start, allowing two runs in six innings of work on Sunday. He continues to cement his case to make the postseason rotation, especially now that Justin Verlander won’t be part of it.
Cristian Javier only completed four innings on 77 pitches, allowing two runs and striking out six. It’s still up in the air as to what his role will be, but at least for the Wild Card round, he’ll probably pitch in relief. Greinke was one bad pitch away from a solid outing, and he’s pretty much in the playoff rotation regardless.