First of all, I hate losing to the Rangers.
It’s not the smug look from Rougned Odor. It’s not the “rivalry” — I feel more of a rivalry with the Cardinals and Dodgers.
No, as a former resident of West Texas, I have too many friends who are Rangers fans. Every time the Rangers win, they get this delusional idea that now — NOW — is when their run at the division begins.
I hate the false hope it gives those poor suckers.
Anyway, here are three things to ponder as Astros try to keep the Angels at bay … oh, and win the stupid Silver Boot. Whatever.
1. The Astros are into the final third of the season. For those not keeping track, the Astros have yet to finish a month below .500. July ended at 12-12. But each month has been successively worse. April was 15-7, May was 16-13, and June was 15-14. So far August has been 3-3. Damned Rangers.
Part of the problem for the Astros has been — surprisingly — defense. In six games this month, Houston has given up 27 runs, but only 22 were earned. That’s nearly a run per game the defense is giving away. Of course, Houston has scored 33 runs over those six games, so a little bit of bad luck seems to be hurting the win total.
Is this defensive stumble just an oddity? The addition of Carlos Gomez would seem to help the defense. But Jed Lowrie isn’t exactly Luis Valbuena at third base. And say what you want about Chris Carter at the plate, but I think his work around the bag at first is a little better than Marwin Gonzalez‘s.
2. The Astros have two days off next week. Monday and Thursday. Better still, there’s no travel on one of those days. Houston has a day off between playing at Oakland and at San Francisco. That rest — along with the free travel day back home on Thursday before playing the depleted Tigers — should help Houston reverse its trend with its monthly winning percentage.
Meanwhile, the Angels apparently have just one more off day this month and a total of four for the rest of the season. Will that grind take its toll on the Halos? Houston has six total days off for the remainder of the season. Will those extra days help with the beleaguered pitching staff and the stalwarts in the lineup?
After all, we all saw how one bad outing by Lance McCullers seemed to affect two games. Giving the bullpen and rotation a break now and then could pay big dividends come late September and into October.
3. George Springer is probably about two weeks away from returning. When he gets here, that outfield will have Springer, Gomez and … who gets sent down. No offense, but while a defense of Springer, Gomez and Jake Marisnick sounds like a pitcher’s dream, we’re talking about left field in Minute Maid. Colby Rasmus is much better than average out there. And even Preston Tucker can handle the position. My only problem with Tucker is his abysmal OPS (.466) vs. left-handed pitching. Rasmus is at least consistent no matter the pitcher with LH vs. RH splits of .774 and .748.
When Springer returns, is Jake the odd man out in the outfield? Or do we keep his right-handed bat and his superior glove, and send Tucker to AAA until September 1? For the record, Jake’s OPS vs. RHs is .692. Not exactly stellar, but better than Tucker … and we already have a left-handed hitting left fielder in Rasmus.
Have a great weekend, Astros fans. Here’s hoping for more Correa Crushes. (I’m copywriting that.)