We’ve officially hit the home-stretch of this baseball season, and the Houston Astros are trying to stay atop the AL West.
The last couple of days haven’t been terrific. The Astros managed to score zero runs over their past 18 innings, followed by the announcement that Zack Greinke and Taylor Jones are headed to the 10-Day COVID IL.
But if you take a step back and look at the last two weeks of play, it isn’t all doom and gloom. While Houston has not been playing their best baseball by any means, they still manage to go night and six there last 15 games and still maintain a four-game lead in the AL West.
The Astros finally were able to use their best lineup now with Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker back in the fold, and the Astro starting rotation should get an additional boost with Jose Urquidy rejoining the team this weekend. The Death Star may be fully operational soon, and all those American League Ewoks out there better watch out.
Despite the Mariners and A’s hanging around, FanGraphs still forecast Houston to finish with 95 wins and take home the AL West crown. That should give Astro fans confidence. On the other hand, when I think about the 2007 Mets – the uber-talented team that had a comfy 7.5 game lead in their division September only to lose 12 of 17 and miss the playoffs (biggest collapse in baseball history IMO) – you get nervous.
This race ain’t over yet. And those nine remaining games against Oakland and Seattle could have enormous implications.
Houston continues to churn out great offensive production from this lineup. He said Astros are third in batting average (.283) and eighth in OPS (.783) over the past 15 games. Houston was first in both categories before Seattle’s pitching silenced their bats in back to back games.
This Astros squad continues to do what they’re great at – getting on base and not striking out. Houston is third in walks and have the second fewest strikeouts for any team during this 15-game period. I can only imagine how much both the addition of Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley snapping out of a slump will enhance this strength.
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Astros pitching has been kind of what it’s always been this season a mixed bag. Astros pitching is currently 13th in ERA (3.81 ERA), 10th in WHIP (1.17) and ninth in opponent batting average (.228) over the past 15 games. The un-even performances are coming from both the starters and the bullpen now.
Bullpen is posting a 4.23 ERA and a WHIP of 1.30 over the last two weeks, with guys like Kendall Graveman and Ryne Stanek having some disappointing outings. Meanwhile, while Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia are dealing, the other starters (namely Zach Greinke) continue to have unusual abysmal outings that put the Astros in an early-game hole.
Some upcoming home games against bad offenses (Texas, Arizona) could help get some of these guys back on the right track.