Astros Offense Continues Disappearing Act Against Phillies
By Alec Brown
When Alex Bregman strikes out three times in a game, that's when you know things are amiss. Through two games against the Phillies, the Astros have two runs.
The enigmatic nature of the team continues. Put a Cy Young caliber opponent on the bump opposite them against a team they'll potentially see in an ALCS or World Series, and the offense will put up runs in bunches. When they're backed into a corner, they explode.
In a World Series rematch, the Astros offense has been nonexistent against Philadelphia. Yes, the Phillies went to the World Series last year after getting scalding hot at the right time.
Yes, they added Trea Turner this offseason.
But the Phillies have plenty of flaws, chief among them their pitching. Yes, Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola are great big league pitchers, but their bullpen has the seventh worst ERA in the game.
Houston let Nola complete eight innings of work and only scratched across a solo shot from Jeremy Peńa before allowing Wheeler to go six scoreless last night. They didn't even give themselves chances to touch the bullpen with the margins still close.
Both Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier weren't at their best, but they also weren't bad. For as many times as they've picked up the bats over the years, it would have been nice to see Houston return the favor.
José Abreu still can't hit, with his .555 OPS one of the worst in all of baseball. Martín Maldonado still is the primary catcher, but his protege Yainer Diaz was rostered for his bat and can't even crack the lineup as a DH. Alex Bregman is now hitting .214 with a below average .681 OPS. Jeremy Peña is striking out at a rate that would make Joey Gallo blush.
Now, this is a team that's won four pennants in the last six years. It's a long season. They'll get it figured out. Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley coming back soon should help.
But getting Yordan back yesterday should have helped too. He was 2-3 with a walk, including a leadoff double ahead of Bregman, Tucker and Abreu in which he was eventually stranded. The big man can't do it all himself. It's time for the Astros bats to wake up.