First, Happy Mother’s Day to every mom. Those reading this and those ladies you call mom. My mom just turned 82 and you can see a little tribute on Instagram or Facebook this morning. Honor your mom today!
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Now, to the question of the day!
Can the Astros run away and hide from the rest of the American League? Or at least from the rest of the AL West?
And, yet, the Astros are just a smidgen away from a double-digit-game lead in the division. Of course, no other team has a winning record and the Rangers have shown a few signs of life lately to stay within eight games of Jeff Luhnow’s boys.
Yes, yes, yes, I’ve noticed that Dallas Keuchel is pitching like 1972 Steve Carlton and is on a pace to finish 27-0 with 265 IP. And, yes, it hasn’t escaped my attention that Lance McCullers Jr. may be solidifying his position as that #2 stopper that the team has needed since Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens backed up Roy Oswalt.
Can the 2017 version of the Astros — the one Sports Illustrated predicted would win a World Series — run away and hide? Would it be prudent for the Astros to run away with the division title?
To be sure, not every player has hit his stride.
Heck, Collin McHugh hasn’t thrown a pitch, Alex Bregman hasn’t hit a home run and Beltran is stroking a “wonderful” .248/.285/.380 line. Two starters have 5+ ERAs and the team’s chosen closer has turned in a 4.20 ERA (though he has saved 10 games).
Still, the Astros are on pace for a franchise-record 113 wins.
Can the organization you’ve followed lo these many years actually run away and hide from the Rangers, Mariners, A’s and Angels?
Dallas will stumble along the way, and Marwin will not lead the team in home runs come September. Can Chris Devenski, Brad Peacock and Will Harris be lights out for an entire season? Who will step up if they do?
Has Luhnow finally pieced together the magical combination? Can this unexpected array of characters do something no other assemblage of Houston teams has ever done? Six times in history, the Astros have won their division, and the ’98 and ’86 teams stand out among those.
But this team may be special. The ’98 team had the Killer B’s with Bagwell, Bell, Biggio and Alou. There was a pitching staff anchored by Mike Hampton until Randy Johnson joined for the last-half run. Of course, the unforgettable ’86 team had the Cardiac Kids with Glenn Davis, Kevin Bass, Billy Hatcher and, of course, that pitching staff. (Shane Reynolds, Nolan Ryan, Bob Knepper and Jim Deshaies).
While those two teams — and perhaps a few others — have been special in Astrodom, this 2017 team may turn out to be the specialest.
Can the 2017 Astros run away and hide?
Yes, the could. But Keuchel won’t be 27-0 and Marwin won’t hit 40 home runs. Not every player has to hit on all cylinders for the entire season. But it will require that 2-3 position players carry the load at any given time and it will require Joe Musgrove or Mike Fiers (or McHugh) to stand up when Keuchel or McCullers stumble.
Your turn: Can the 2017 Astros run away and hide from the rest of the AL West? What will it take?