As we near the halfway point of the season, there have been some great moments and developments for our Houston Astros. There’s been some good roster surprises (Luis Garcia, Ryne Stanek and Chas McCormick), some big wins against rivals on the road, and an electric star-studded batting lineup that is currently the best in baseball.
While fans often need to enjoy the journey of each season, the end goal for this team this year is a lofty one: win another World Series. There is more pressure on this franchise to win than ever before, with key players like Jose Altuve, Zack Greinke and Michael Brantley getting older, Carlos Correa potentially in his last season with Houston, and an owner that seems squeamish to go above a luxury tax.
The Astros are currently a top 10team in the league with the #1 offense in baseball, so it’s fair to say they have as good of a chance as any contender to win the World Series. However, the 2021 Astros team has a fatal flaw – the bullpen. As it stands the Astros bullpen ranks 24th in ERA and 20th in WHIP and are tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for having the most blown leads. No lead seems safe with this bullpen.
So the question is (assuming no major changes occur): Can the Houston Astros win it all with a subpar bullpen? Conventional wisdom would tell us no. The old sports adage of “defense wins championships” tend to play out more times than not. But is it always the case? To get an answer, let’s examine the team profiles of recent World Series champions.