Can history repeat itself?
During the game Thursday night, the announcers mentioned how the 2004 Astros at a similar point in the season were 60-60 and 5.5 games out of the Wild Card. Those Astros went on a 32-10 tear from then to the end of the season to squeak into the wild card spot by one game. That team went on to win the first playoff series in the history of the team.
The Astros of 2016 started the night one game better than the 2004 team and also 5.5 games out of the wild card. But this team is not showing any signs of a rip roaring run to the playoffs. So, assuming for argument’s sake that some of the fans may have given up on this team competing, what will keep them interested as the team limps down the final stretch of the season?
Here is a list of possible compelling story lines unrelated to a non-existent pennant race:
- Alex Bregman – After a horrific start to his hitting career (his fielding has never faltered) Bregman has steadily pulled that .031 average up to the .200 mark. Is he the answer at 3rd base or left field or DH or where?
- Yulieski Gourriel – Will the Cuban make it to the bigs soon? Probably. Is he worth $45 million? Maybe. How will they work him into a lineup with Bregman? By moving Bregman elsewhere or by DH’ing Gourriel? Likely the non-$45 million man moves.
- A.J. Reed – His 0 for 15 start to his mlb career has also been followed by a slow climb towards the Mendoza line. Will the 2015 Minor league whiz (113 Runs, 34 HRs and 127 RBIs) put up a strong final six weeks to the season?
- Dallas Keuchel – Will the 2015 Keuchel return? Is he hurting? Is he exhausted? Did he pitch too much in 2015? Should they consider shutting him down when the team finally gives up too?
- Joe Musgrove – One really bad start notwithstanding, the kid needs to start games the rest of the season and take his bumps and successes both.
- Carlos Gomez, and any other player who is available to be traded after clearing waivers. The next couple weeks will be interesting to see if any of the players eligible to be traded actually are. This could include Gomez or other veterans like Pat Neshek or Doug Fister.
- Chris Devenski and Michael Feliz – Will the Astros at some point give one of these youngsters a spot in the rotation?
- Luis Valbuena, Colby Rasmus and especially Lance McCullers – Will any of these guys come back from injury and do the fans really want them to come back or sit out the rest of the season?
- James Hoyt, Teoscar Hernandez, Tony Kemp and Tyler White – will these rookies be given much of a shot down the stretch?
- Ken Giles – Will he be given a full chance at the closer’s role (if the team has any games to close)?
So – two questions. Have you given up? And if so, what will keep your attention down the final stretch of the season?