The Astros proved they aren’t a product of a weak division.
Coming into 2022, the Astros had lots of question marks regarding their status as the top team in the AL West.
Would a healthy Los Angeles Angels team overtake them? Would the Seattle Mariners take another leap from last year and contend for the AL West title? Would Verlander be the same? Will Luis Garcia have a sophomore slump? Will Jeremy Peña be able to fill in for Carlos Correa? Can the rotation sustain the loss of Lance McCullers Jr. and for how long?
So far every single answer to those questions has been, in order: No, no, even better than before, no, overall yes, and for apparently the entire season if need be.
With the division seeming to be a foregone conclusion due to the puzzling failures of the Angels and Mariners, the only question left was are the Astros in the same category as the New York Yankees this season.
The Yankees are on pace to break the all-time regular season wins record set by the 2001 Seattle Mariners of 116. The Astros are obviously a good team, but they do play in a division where they are the only team over .500 and their record against the AL East going into the series was 3-6.
It should be undisputed that the AL East is the best division at least in the American League if not all of baseball as currently the best records in the American League are in order:
- Red Sox
- Blue Jays
The AL East holds four of the possible six playoff spots and only the Astros have a better record than the top four AL East teams. And the Yankees are owning that division despite how loaded it is.
This series was important to show if the Astros need a massive upgrade at the trade deadline heading towards October or just some tweaks. Are they at least in the same stratosphere as the Yankees?
And the answer was a resounding yes, they are one hundred percent in the same stratosphere. It’s important to note a key stat from this weekend. The only time the Astros trailed in all four games, was in the final at-bat of the Yankees in games one and four. The Astros either led or were tied for 37 innings of baseball against a team that is on a historic win pace.
They blew three run leads in the ninth and seventh innings of games one and four respectively. Suffice to say, the Astros needed to see where they stacked against the best team in baseball, and while they came away with a 2-2 split, it easily could have been a 4-0 sweep. A tired bullpen prevented that, which leads us to our next takeaway.