The Houston Astros finished the first half of the season playing good baseball, capped off with a miraculous six-run rally to beat the “high and mighty” New York Yankees. Houston has reminded everyone in the league that they are, once again, a bona fide World Series contender.
Over the last 30 days, the Astros went 19-8 Which included an 11-game win streak and some impressive offensive output. During that time, they have leapfrogged the slumping A’s In the standings and now have a semi-comfortable first place lead in the AL West. This team, which has the best offense in baseball, appears to be improving with their bullpen are getting production from all 25 guys on the bench. Just a masterful job by Dusty Baker thus far.
How have the Astros looked over the last few weeks?
The Astros offense continued to rake in June, ranking 6th in OPS and 7th in both batting average and slugging over the past 30 days. During this time Houston 38 homers (sixth in the league) and generated 114 walks (second in the league) . With very few exceptions – Frankie Montas and Gerrit Cole – opposing pitchers have not been able to slow down this Astros offense.
What’s impressive about these numbers was most of these games were played without MVP candidate Alex Bregman, Aledmys Diaz and (only recently) Carlos Correa. With those players set to return during the second half, this offense could take yet another jump. Houston has a lineup has a potent blend of power, average and plate discipline that frankly no other team other than the Dodgers have.
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While the offense gets all the headlines and the glory, the Astros pitching has been key too their ascension to the top of the AL West standings. the Astros have posted a 3.07 ERA for the last 30 days (second in ERA) and 8th in WHIP with a 1.20.
This was attributed to the return of Framber Valdez and Jake Odorizzi to anchor the starting staff, but a lot of it is linked to the better performance of the bullpen. Despite their record-setting 14 walks on Sunday, this bullpen has greatly improved from what they were two months ago.
The last trend piece we focused on the abysmal play of the Astros bullpen which was costing the Astros games and the entire fan base strong migraine headaches.
The Astros bullpen is posting a 3.69 ERA and are now rank 14th in ERA in the seventh inning or later – Houston was 26th in late inning s back in May. This ascension in late inning ERA is linked to with some recent strong performances from guys like Ryne Stanek, Brooks Raley, Blake Taylor and (always) All-Star Ryan Pressly.
Houston will still need to add a consistent arm in the bullpen for the playoff push, but this upward trend is very encouraging. As long as they don’t walk every other batter, they’ll be fine.