Well, the Astros and Angels are even in the loss column, but Houston has a one-game lead for the division. It’s a precarious lead to be sure, but I’ll take it.
Once again, the Astros are fighting to have a .500 month. Despite the losing streak before the All-Star game, Houston is now 11-11 in July. Kazmir takes the mound tonight against the Halos, and they finish out the month Friday night with the D-Backs in town.
As of right now, the Astros have 60 games left. Here’s the breakdown.
After the two games to end July, Houston will open August finishing the series against Arizona. Then it’s on the road for three against the Rangers, four against the A’s and two against San Francisco. The Giants series is sandwiched between a pair of off days, so that’s nice.
Then it’s 10 days at home with three against the Tigers, four against Tampa and three vs. the Dodgers. Three at the Yankees are followed by an off day and three in Minnesota. Watch for me in the stands on the 30th. The Astros finish August with the first game of a home series vs. Seattle.
Of the 28 games in August, only eight are in the division, and none are vs. the Angels. Though Houston does have an opportunity to end any hope the Rangers might have.
September starts with two more at home vs. Seattle, an off day and three at home vs. the Twins. Then it’s 10 games in 11 days on the road against the A’s (3), Angels (3) and Rangers (4). Then nine games in 10 days at home vs. those same A’s, Angels and Rangers. The Astros close out September with three games at Seattle.
So far, that’s seven games in Arlington vs. hosting the Rangers for three. Games in Yankee Stadium and Pac Bell. But home games against Detroit, Tampa and LAD without return trips to their ballparks. (We’ve already been.)
The Astros finish the season with three in Arizona.
The Angels have their own schedule problems. After leaving Houston tonight, they have six total against the Dodgers, three against the Royals, and in August face Wild Card hopefuls Baltimore (3), the White Sox (7) and Toronto (3). They end the season with four at Texas, and have fewer off days since they have two games to make up on the schedule. So that might help wear them out as well.
And Then What?
The trade deadline is Friday afternoon. After that, any pickups would have to clear waivers first … which means bit pieces at best.
But if the Astros swing a deal, who is the odd man out in the rotation. Right now the Astros have Dallas Keuchel, Scott Kazmir, Collin McHugh and Scott Feldman with Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez in some kind of starter tandem to reduce wear and tear. So, does Luhnow sit Feldman? McHugh? Do the rookies go to the bullpen permanently as long relief?
I know, I know. When you think you have enough pitching, get more pitching. … But don’t the Astros have enough pitching? Is a two-month rental on Ross (or Andrew Cashner or Craig Kimbrel) worth it? At least Kimbrel I can understand. That’s for the bullpen.
Personally, I would prefer a bat. But tonight Houston welcomes back Jed Lowrie. Lowrie at third, MarGo at first. Makes sense. Then Houston just needs to get Springer back in about three more weeks. Is that enough offense coming back? He’d return in time either for that home series against the Dodgers or the road series against the Yankees. In other words, just when the team needs him.
Think This Through
1. What about that schedule? That’s some tough stretches, and September is all about the AL West. But the Angels are looking at a similar path if not worse.
2. If the Astros make another move, what do you want it to be? A starter? If so, who gets bumped from the rotation? I know it’s easy to say Feldman or McHugh based on ERA. But Feldman was lights-out his last outing and is often capable of that. And McHugh had six quality starts in his last eight outings, including some real gems (June 23, 8 IP, 2 ER vs. Angels; June 28, 8 IP, 1 ER vs Yankees). Is it the rookies who get banished? No offense, but I’d rather trot McCullers and even Velasquez out to the mound than Tyson Ross.
3. Would you rather see a bat? Do you want to throw another arm a la Kimbrel into Houston’s bullpen mix?
4. Should the Astros just stand pat and wait for Lowrie then Springer?