The Astros rolled into Atlanta this weekend in a potential World Series preview. While Atlanta wasn't kind to Houston in the 2021 World Series, the rematch this weekend was an entirely different story.
The Astros swept Atlanta, receiving strong pitching performances in all three games.
Hunter Brown allowed four runs in the bottom of the first on Friday before settling in. Over the next 26 innings of baseball, Houston allowed only five runs. The bullpen was especially dominant, throwing 9 1/3 innings, yielding no hits, walking three, striking out 11 and allowing no runs.
This got us thinking: where does the Astros staff rank this season against other teams? After losing Justin Verlander in free agency and Lance McCullers due to injury, surely they've experience some regression no?
In fact, they really haven't. Enterting today, the Astros have a team ERA of 3.22, good for third best in the game. Their team ERA last season was 2.84, second best in the game, but as Michael Schwab pointed out, through 22 games last season the Astros were 14th in the MLB with a 3.58 ERA.
Their bullpen holds a 3.13 ERA, and while Phil Maton will eventually allow a run, Ryan Pressly should regain form as the season goes along.
The starting rotation should also stabilize a bit. Luis Garcia's ERA won't stay above a 5.00 all season, so even if Hunter Brown regresses to a bit of the rookie norm, the rotation will be fine.
And with the addition of a shift ban, pitch clock and bigger bases, more runs will be scored, so a team ERA of 3.22 may not be all that different from last season's 2.84. As long as the Astros are a top-three-to-five rotation ERA wise, they'll be just fine.
The two teams ahead of them are their rival Yankees (3.06) and the Tampa Bay Rays (2.71). The Astros begin a showdown with the Rays tonight in a battle of two high-scoring, run-limiting teams.
The Twins (3.36) and Rangers (3.37) round out the top-five.
Of AL West foes, the Mariners rank 10th with a 3.73 ERA, the Angels are 11th with a 3.93 ERA and Oakland is last in the MLB with an indescribably high 7.97 ERA.