If your goal for the 2015 Astros was just to make sure the Astros didn’t backslide, then wish granted. If Houston lost every game from here on out, the team would still tie the 2014 mark. So, you know, they got that going for them.
Welcome to 70 wins. Anyone think this would happen in August? Anyone?
Speaking of “70,” that’s how many runs the Astros will have given up in August … once the Astros give up one more run. That’s second-best in the AL. Good thing too, because the Astros have scored 87 runs, third-worst in the AL. Amazingly, Houston is 12-11 thus far this month. It’d be nice to finish another month over .500. Another small step toward the playoffs.
Home Runs: That the Astros are leading the AL in homers is no secret. But the team is also three home runs — one by Marwin Gonzalez and two by Hank Conger — away from having 11 players with double digits in homers. That’s a level of balance that makes this team so hard to keep down.
Colby Rasmus hits a pair, the Astros beat Detroit. Marwin hits a walk-off blast to top the Tigers. Carlos Correa‘s early homer helps get Houston to extra innings against the Rays. Jake Marisnick and Evan Gattis are all the punch needed behind Mike Fiers. Jose Altuve and Luis Valbuena provide the margin behind Scott Kazmir against those same Dodgers. Jason Castro clears the wall in left for the sweep. Carlos Gomez, Marwin and Gattis all go deep on a slugfest.
You can lament all day about the Ks, and, yes, I’d like to see someone besides Chris “Windmill” Carter at first base. But this team is always one swing away from runs. Most nights, every hitter in the lineup is capable of going deep at any moment. Get a walk or a single in front of that, and we’re looking at a crooked number on the scoreboard. For the record, 109 of Houston’s 172 homers have been solo shots. That means 63 swings resulted in crooked numbers.
With Houston’s pitching, often that’s enough.
The Competition: Meanwhile, the stRangers might have six guys in double digit homers when the season ends. Overall, Texas has scored five more runs than Houston. The Angels of Someplace Sunny are 40 runs behind the Astros on the season. Neither team is close to Houston’s league-leading team ERA of 3.31. The Halos are at 3.86, and Texas is at 4.37. Meanwhile, Houston’s bullpen ERA is a run better than the Halos and nearly two full runs ahead of Texas.
Too Much Talent: Houston has so many good options, it sent Preston Tucker with his .750 OPS to the minors because they don’t have enough room to play him. And you can keep your “send down Marisnick” comments to yourself. In his last 15 games, he has an OPS at .814.
If you want Hinch and Luhnow to cut it down to five starters, who sits? Fiers? The guy just pitched a no-no. Kazmir? He’s the gem of the trade deadline. Dallas Keuchel is going to win a Cy Young Award. Collin McHugh has slowly been dropping his ERA — it’s now at 3.96 — thanks to a 2.60 ERA over his last seven starts. Scott Feldman has been lights out. Lance McCullers is an ace waiting to happen.
That’s six starters. And we haven’t even gotten to Vincent Velasquez.
Some points to ponder …
1. It seems like there are too many pitchers. Should Houston end the Oliver Perez experiment?
2. What about the Rangers and/or Angels makes you nervous?
3. Do you miss Preston Tucker? If so, who does he replace?
4. How does 70 wins feel this time? You know, with 32 games left?
5. Houston has a lot of head-to-head games left with Texas and Someplace Sunny. Of course, they play one another, too. Are those the most important games left?