Are Slow Starts an Astros Thing?
The Astros have started the season, as per usual, hovering around .500 and it seems to be old at this point. The fans are reasonably anxious about the mercurial nature of the teams April start, especially since other playoff clubs are soaring, like the 11-0 Rays start. Is this just what the Astros always do or is it a new development?
I recall, as I’m sure many of you do, the 2005 Astros horrid start going 18-32 over the first 50 games, then only to turn it around and make the playoffs. That 70-41 post May record was definitely special, but not really the same situation as the Astros are in today around .500.
That season aside, the Astros have had several Aprils' in a row that have produced less than stellar results. Last year the Astros were 11-10 for April, and as we all know, they won it all. In 2021 they posted a record of 14-12 and in 2020 they didn’t play nearly that often to note a starting season record.
On the other hand when AJ Hinch managed the Astros their record in April sang a different tune. The Astros were 17-9 in 2019, Hinch’s last season. In Hinch’s previous seasons the Astros were 18-9(2018), 16-9(2017), 7-17 (2016), and 15-7 (2015).
The only time in Hinch’s tenure they had a losing or around .500 record they also missed the playoffs. The reality is, the slow start is not an Astros thing but more of a Dusty Baker thing, which is symbolized by his regular rests schedule for position players and pitch counts for starters.
Clearly it didn’t hurt the Astros last season, but this season could be different with a lot of moving pieces to begin the season with Altuve, and Brantley out and Verlander on another team. Time will tell and fans might be panicking a little bit about the lackluster starting pitching thus far or the streaky hitting but this is not unfamiliar territory for the Dusty Baker Astros, so take a breath and see what their record is come June.
One thing is for sure if the trend continues through June it will be a tough hole to climb out of with the stacked American League, but if any team has the talent to overcome it is the Astros.