The Houston Astros have driven a rocky road to get to a 17-25 record, six weeks into the season. They have made a team effort to hand away games in every manner possible, between poor starting pitching, blown leads by the bullpen, non-clutch offensive performances and a series of bonehead plays in the field and on the bases. But all is not lost, there are signs of improvement.
Reasons for hope……
- Recent improvement – The Astros are 9-7 in their last 16 games. And the seven losses include three games where they had the lead late in the game, including two extra inning losses. They are very competitive right now even with tough teams like the Red Sox and White Sox.
- LMJ is back – Lance McCullers was a key cog in last season’s success and is back in the rotation.
- Evan Gattis is back….OK ignore Wednesday night’s 4 K fiasco and concentrate on his game winning dinger from his first night back and his two hits including a dinger on Thursday night against Chris Sale. Besides that, the Astros don’t have to have a bench spot taken up by a .043 backup catcher.
- Youth will be served – No way of knowing how things will go, but Tony Kemp had a two hit, one walk, one big OF assist debut that was promising. Colin Moran was hitless besides a walk, but the kid needed to get his feet wet some time.
- The Walking Dead are coming to life – In his last 21 games, Jason Castro is raking (for him) at .286/.452/ .988, Luis Valbuena is finally above the Mendoza line and Tyler White has pulled out of his death spiral slump.
- Carlos Gomez is “hurt”. OK give the guy a break…..of his leg.
- Jose Altuve may be the best hitter in the AL and a possible MVP candidate if….. the team can right the ship and get on the upside of .500.
- Will Harris may be the best set-up man around where it is not obvious why he is so unhittable. His ERA (.46), WHIP (.661) and BB/9 IP (0.9) are all unearthly good. And he is doing it without a 99 mph fastball or a 12-6 curveball.
- Dallas Keuchel will trend back to good, not because he must, but because they must have it to contend.
- George Springer and Carlos Correa have been good and could go on a run of very good to excellent.
So, what do you see as signs of life with the Astros?