We’ve officially reached the dog days of summer, and the Houston Astros are playing … meh.
I mean, the Houston Astros have 8-7 in their last 15 games which isn’t anything to scoff at, but they’ve been experiencing some up-and-down performances from guys and certainly aren’t playing near the level they were back in June.
The recent couple of games includes going forward for on the tough West Coast road trip. The Astros took two out of three up in Seattle Mariners, followed by a series loss to the juggernaut San Francisco Giants then a two-game series split against the “holier than thou” Los Angeles Dodgers. Houston came back home to lose three of four to the hapless Twins, before bouncing back for a nice two-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
Houston still maintains a lead in the AL West, but the Oakland Athletics aren’t going away anytime soon and the Astros will need to pick up their play if they want to hold on to this AL West lead.
The numbers suggest some good stuff on the offense – Houston is 11th in the majors in OPS (.760) and are 11th in batting average (.262) over the past 15 games. Pretty impressive numbers considering the pitching that the Astros faced on that eight game West Coast swing.
The Astros pitching has been a bit of a struggle. Although Houston is 9th in ERA (3.40) over the past 15 games, they are also 20th in WHIP (1.35) and 16th in opponent batting average (.242 BA) during that time. For the first time all season, the source of the trouble isn’t the bullpen. These high WHIP numbers are linked to the recent performances by the starting rotation – namely Jake Odorizzi and Zack Greinke getting tagged on the road, and Framber Valdez continuing to walk batters at an alarming rate.
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Despite the ho hum last two weeks, things are still looking good for the Astros. The return of Alex Bregman and Jose Urquidy will get the team closer to full strength, as will the return of Yuli Gurriel and perhaps even Josh “Flames” James.
Houston also has a favorable stretch of games to close the season – they only have 12 of their last 48 games against teams who are in any real playoff contention. Houston still gets to play 10 games against the Angels, 7 games against both the Rangers and Royals, and 3 against the Diamondbacks. If the stars align just right, Houston could go something like 35-13 and head into the playoffs with a ton of confidence.
If Houston can gather their strength for the last push, they should finish around 100 wins and reclaim that AL West crown.