In six weeks the Astros’ unexpected 2015 run to the playoffs will be over. Astros’ fans have been waiting for the ship to sink for most of the season, but somehow the team has stayed at the top for most of the season despite having a 30-35 record since June 3. After their game of August 17 they were 2-1/2 games ahead of the Angels and three ahead of the Rangers. A month ago they had a half game lead in the division and two months ago they had a 2-1/2 game lead in the division.
They have kept the lead mostly because the teams chasing them had come from a below average spot and then made a run they could not sustain. Having two teams fairly close to them is more problematic, because it is very likely that one of them (and the blog contributors here are betting it is the Rangers) will put on a push that will force the Astros to play better than they have over the last two and a half months.
So what are the keys for the Astros heading down the stretch?
- Have to perform better on the road – They have to get out of the funk that has had them winning only five of the previous 22 road games
- Have to continue to perform well in the division. They are 28-23 against the AL West so far this season
- Have to show well against the Angels and the Rangers. They play them 13 times between Sept. 11th and the end of the season
- Have to get George Springer back and performing well in the next three weeks
- Have to show they will do something / anything to get a decent bat into the first base spot. Tyler White or Matt Duffy or AJ Reed or anyone else with a pulse would be an improvement over Chris Carter. And frankly, they need to do it before the playoff rosters are set on Sept. 1
- Figure out how to slide Lance McCullers Jr and Vincent Velasquez back in the mix without screwing up the starting rotation and /or the bullpen
- Stop giving away base runners every game – There is Aggressive and then there is Dumb and they have flashed over to Dumb
So – what are your keys coming down the stretch?