So, 64 games in the Astros are 36-28. In those first 64 games, there have been some good runs (late April through mid-May) and some not-so-good runs (the most recent East Coast road trip). But, with just under 100 games to go, if this is who the Astros are, that’s a 91-win team. Warts and all.
Frankly, I’d feel more comfortable with another big three-week run that shows some of that early success wasn’t a fluke.
But I’m not here today to worry about winning streaks, losing skids and how they balance out over the course of a long season. Nope, I have bigger concerns. Such as …
1. Do the Astros have too many hot rookies?
Last season, Collin McHugh and George Springer both earned AL Rookie of the Year votes. McHugh finished fourth, and Springer finished tenth with one third-place tally. This year, there could easily be three ROY candidates on the Astros squad. Maybe four.
The obvious choice right now is probably Carlos Correa. With the caveat that his numbers right now are boosted by the small sample size mirage, Correa will be the talk of Houston all summer. He’ll be the talk of the AL as long as he keeps producing. In six games and 25 ABs, Correa is hitting .240 with a .789 OPS. He’s stolen a base. He’s hit two home runs. He’s driven in four runs. And he’s struck out too often (eight Ks) for my taste, though he’ll slowly get it together on the Ks.
To me, Correa might not even be the best choice. That honor goes to Lance McCullers Jr. The 21-year-old son of a major leaguer is pitching with some amazing maturity. Six games into his MLB career, LMJ has pitched 36 innings with just a 2.00 ERA, 40 Ks and just a 0.889 WHIP. Add in a complete game (such an impressive night by LMJ) and the no-hitter through five Sunday to go along with that 1.0 WAR, and McCullers might be a better choice than the guy picked 40 spots before him.
But even this outstanding pair may not be the best Astros rookie by the end of the season. In 101 plate appearances, Preston Tucker has a .733 OPS, has whiffed just 20 times in that span, walked 9 times and has totaled 10 extra-base hits. With his advanced hit tool, Tucker brings a lot of value to this lineup.
Oh, and don’t forget Vincent Velasquez. He’s pitched only one game, going five innings, but he’s got an ERA of 0.00 despite his WHIP of 1.400. Four walks will kill you. But that’s just ViVe’s first outing. I’m betting that WHIP goes down and that ERA goes up. Still, I’m guessing there will be some impressive results by the season’s end.
But with so many good ROY candidates on one team, will Houston’s best candidate lose out to a split vote?
2. Collin McHugh’s no good, very bad outing.
Eight runs over three innings has bumped McHugh’s ERA to a tad above 5.00. Are you worried? I am, a bit. He’s still 6-3. He’s still got a WHIP of 1.33. But he’s struck out only 62 in 79.2 innings pitched, which is pretty low for the quality version of McHugh. The Astros have won 8 of his 13 starts, so if the team can keep that up, he’s still a pretty effective pitcher, but the slide has been bad since he gave up seven ER to the Giants on May 12.
That said, the loss to the Giants and Saturday’s game are the only times he’s given up more than four earned runs and gone less then six innings. So maybe what he really needs is what all the Astros’ pitchers need: a little run support.
Does McHugh’s recent outing concern you, or do you see it as a small bump in the road?
3. Jose Altuve may never get 3,000 hits
El Gigante topped the 700-hit mark the other night. It happened June 8 on a single against Chris Sale.
Altuve currently sits at 702 hits, 72 for the season.
I think we can all agree 225 hits was a monster number last year. But, even with his sub-.300 batting average right now, Altuve is on track to collect 188 hits this season, moving his MLB total to 818, and leaving him in good position to reach 1,000 some time near the end of 2016, his age-26 season. By comparison, Craig Biggio had just 624 hits at the end of his age-26 season.
If Altuve averaged 188 hits a year for the next six years, he’d reach 2,000 hits some time in his age-32 season. Then it’s just a matter of durability.
So, other than wins/loses and the length of Dallas Keuchel‘s beard, what questions keep you up at night?
1. The strikeout total?
2. The Jon Singleton question?
3. What Luhnow has up his sleeve for when Lowrie comes back, and suddenly we have too many infielders at third and short?
4. How Luhnow will ever sign Daz Cameron when he needs serious cash for Bregman and Tucker-2?
5. Something else completely different?