The biggest Astros' problem in 2024 is unexpected killer for offensive woes

Well, it happened again.
Houston Astros pitcher Spencer Arrighetti
Houston Astros pitcher Spencer Arrighetti / Tim Warner/GettyImages

It's been said that you can't win the pennant in April, but you can definitely lose it. In the case of the Houston Astros, the quote could be altered to say, you can't win the game in the first inning, but you can definitely lose it.

That's exactly where the Astros find themselves. Houston has allowed the second-most first-inning runs (30) among all major league teams this season. The only team who's allowed more has been the Colorado Rockies (35).

Through the first 25 games, the Astros' starting pitching has allowed five first-inning home runs, watched opponents hit .361 during the first frame, and posted a 10.80 ERA before getting the first three outs of the game. Houston pitchers have allowed 16 first-inning walks, which explains a ghastly 2.20 WHIP.

The biggest Astros' problem in 2024 is unexpected killer for offensive woes

Spencer Arrighetti added to the total on Wednesday. The rookie allowed four runs in the first inning including a three-run home run off the bat of Dansby Swanson. The four runs Chicago scratched across in the first inning was the only time the Cubs scored, but Houston ultimately fell by the final of 4-3.

It must be incredibly demoralizing for the Astros hitters to step into the batters' box having already fallen behind early in the game. An early lead oftentimes affects the bullpen as well. The four-spot in the first inning of Wednesday's game saw Arrighetti throw 33 pitches. The relief corps knew they'd be called upon early, and they were. Shawn Dubin came on in the fourth after Arrighetti threw 90 pitches through 3.2 innings.

Christian Javier, who's currently on the IL, has done his job in the first inning. The right-hander has yet to allow a runner to dent the plate at the onset of the game. The same is true of Framber Valdez during his first two starts.

Astros starters Hunter Brown and JP France have struggled in the 1st inning

Hunter Brown's horrific outing earlier this month certainly doesn't help his case. Brown was removed before getting out of the first inning against the Kansas City Royals during a previous start and has allowed 16 hits and 12 earned runs in the first inning. JP France has seen six runners cross the plate in the first inning as well.

This is certainly a problem, and one that manager Joe Espada hopes will be solved once the Astros are fully healthy. A starting rotation of Javier, Valdez, Justin Verlander, Ronel Blanco, and eventually Luis Garcia will give the 'Stros a better chance early in games. But how long will it take the Astros starting rotation to get back to full strength?

By the way, if you're curious how well the Astros' hitters have handled the first inning, Houston ranks 10th in the majors with 15 runs scored and seventh in OPS (.844). These slow starts can in no way be attributed to the Astros lineup.

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