The Astros enter Wednesday night three games back in the AL West. They've received fantastic performances from breakout rookies like J.P. France and Yainer Diaz, as well as a massive uptick in production from players like Chas McCormick. As the Astros have battled injury all year, it's been unsung heroes that have kept them afloat.
With 48 games to go, if they're going to make up their deficit, they'll need more than unsung heroes to produce.
These five Astros need to play better the remainder of the season.
Disclaimer: Martín Maldonado and José Abreu aren't on this list. At this point, they are what they are: old players that aren't producing at the plate or in the field. In the case of Abreu, he's the worst qualified player in the MLB by fWAR. It's on the coaching staff to make a change rather than hope for some out of nowhere production.
The Astros need more from Jeremy Peña.
Jeremy Peña was never going to be able to replicate his success last October over a 162-game season. The ALCS and World Series MVP was absolutely incredible in the playoffs, but he had an unsustainable level of production.
While he wasn't going to hit 35 home runs with a .300+ average this year, there was hope he would improve on his pitch selection, continue to mash fastballs, and lay off the down and away slider. Needless to say...that hasn't happened.
Peña is hitting .244 with a .676 OPS and 86 OPS+. Since July 5th, he has three extra base hits, all of which are doubles. He hasn't homered in over a month. His production against the fastball has absolutely plummeted.
And not only has he regressed at the plate, but the reigning Gold Glover was worth 16 defensive runs saved last year. This season he has been worth 0.
If the Astros are going to make noise down the stretch, they're going to need more from their shortstop.