Perhaps calling the Astros latest rise from the dead The Lazarus Effect is a misnomer as that faithful disciple only rose once. Perhaps this team that has been on the brink of ending their season more than a half dozen times in 2016 is really showing symptoms of the Michael Myers Effect or the Jason Voorhees effect.
Their latest flirt with baseball death has included losing their arguably two best starting pitchers (Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr.), their star in the making third baseman (Alex Bregman), their star shortstop’s shoulder (Carlos Correa) and their best player’s swing (Jose Altuve). This all occurred in conjunction with playing 13 straight games against first place teams (Rangers, Indians, Cubs, and Rangers) followed by three games against the hottest team in the league (M’s). They somehow stumbled out of that stretch not totally out of the Wild Card race and after Tuesday night’s 2-1 tenth inning win over the A’s they have scratched out of the grave and within 2 games of the second Wild Card.
The team has been riding good to very good starting pitching by everyone whose name does not rhyme with Sister, a really great effort by their bullpen led by multi-inning death ray Chris Devenski and just enough clutch hitting to win 5 of the last 6 games. They have 7 of their last 11 games at home and 7 of 11 against the last place Los Angeles/Anaheim/Redondo Beach Angels. They still need help to win the second Wild Card, but they are showing signs of holding up their end of the deal by winning a boat load of their own games and seeing where that gets them. (Note – if they go 6-5 the rest of the way they will tie their 86-76 record of 2015).
- Do they replace Fister in the rotation?
- If Keuchel and/or McCullers are able to pitch in the last two weeks do they dare use them?
- How many times can Devenski come out of the pen with his nasty stuff down the stretch – he has not given up a run in almost a month and has more than 100 innings out of the bullpen for them?
- Do they dare move Devo into the starting rotation?
- Will Altuve, Springer and Correa warm up for the stretch run exhausted and physically beat though they may be?
- Which of their lesser players (e.g. Tony Kemp on Monday night) will come through for them?
- Can Joseph Musgrove, Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh and Mike Fiers carry the team to the finish line?