Opportunity awaits: Astros need to go full throttle to the All Star break


On June 5, after losing to James Paxton and the Mariners were 37-25, the Astros were two games back in the division behind Seattle, and 5 1/2 games back of the Red Sox for the best record in the majors. For perspective, 37-25 is on pace for a 97 win season, which would tie for the Astros’ 3rd best ever record. But still, it felt a little disappointing.  At the time, it was noted that the M’s had played one of the easiest schedules in the majors and the Astros one of the hardest, but this was about to reverse.

The Astros took advantage of a softer schedule and through Sunday’s win over the Royals, they had gone 15-2 in their last 17 games and were sporting a 52-27 record (106 win pace). They had made up 6 1/2 games on the M’s and were leading the division by four games. On top of this, they were in a virtual tie with the Yankees for the best record in the majors. A very nice 2-1/2 weeks by the Astros to flip things around. But it is not enough.

The Astros are staring at another set of soft series between now and the All Star Break, starting July 16. They play in order:

  • Three at home against Toronto (36-41)
  • Four at Tampa Bay (37-40)
  • Two at Texas (34-45)
  • Four at home against Chisox (26-51)
  • Three at home against Oakland (40-38)
  • Three at home against Detroit (36-42)

Only the A’s are presently above .500 from that grouping and possibly the biggest barrier to a great run is the crazy fact that 13 of the 19 games are at home, where the Astros have a winning record, but are 5 1/2 games worse than on the road.

This is the time to bury the other teams in the division. This is the time to grab the home field advantage. The Astros need to continue to get very good starting pitching, the improved hitting they’ve seen lately (Friday night being an exception) and solid relief pitching.

Currently, the Astros have two pitchers in the top five in innings pitched; Justin Verlander (third, but likely first after Monday’s start) and Gerrit Cole (fifth). They also have two more in the top 20 in Dallas Keuchel (13th) and Lance McCullers (17th). The best way to get these guys some rest down the stretch is to build up a big lead and this is a prime chance to do just that.

The offense has gotten a lot steadier in this recent streak – scoring four or more runs in 15 of the 17 games, those two exceptions (1 run and 0 runs scored) came in the only two losses. If they can keep that going and have Carlos Correa or George Springer go on one of their tears where they carry the team, this could be a real special streak heading into an All Star game that should have a real Astros flavor to it.

  • How many of the next 19 games should the Astros win?
  • How many will they win?
  • What will be their lead in the division, if any, after 19 games?
  • Will they have the best record in baseball headed into the All Star Break?
Advertisements

176 comments on “Opportunity awaits: Astros need to go full throttle to the All Star break

  1. Is it safe to say that DK is pretty much done as a top of the line starter? At this rate he won’t even be a #5 for much longer

    Like

    • Dan, I just walked in and missed the win, but it’s still a win. Go ahead and make your comment about the empty glass. 🙂

      Like

      • Diane – the best part was that he took big swings and missed two pitches, then made an adjustment to shorten his swing and not drop the barrel below the ball…resulting in the walk off HR!

        Like

      • Just watched the interview with Alex. Him all trying to be cool and everything. Says he’s “been swinging the bat pretty good and just trying to help the team.” Heck, I heard that in “Bull Durham.” LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bagwell said on pregame last night this tm spoiled us last yr, other tms have gotten better and they’ll have to grind out games this season. He got that right

    Like

    • I saw video of Bregman hitting in Corpus and thought he was a major leaguer with that short to the ball swing. I think he is the real thing. He sees the strike zone better than Altuve. That being said, I just don’t think anyone currently has the eye/hand of Jose. He knows how to make up for terrible swings. Not taking anything away from Alex, but I think Jose is currently in a league by himself swinging the bat. Time will tell.

      Like

  3. Wow daveb7, amazing stats. How many hits is Alex on pace to hit this season? Alex is a much more patient hitter & crushes mistakes. Altuve hits everything, even junk, I dunno Dave

    Like

    • Old School, Altuve is a rare hitter. It’s a long shot, but as you note, Alex has that great eye, and I think will hit for more power too. We know he’s going to get better, but how much? Another great young guy to watch play.

      Like

  4. Good team win. Bregman/Gattis/Reddick/Kemp all with multiple hits. Bullpen stout for 3.2 innings.
    Walkoff wins starting to pile up: Bregman with 3 walkoff winners out of 4 for the team.
    Anyone want to try Kemp at leadoff?

    Like

    • No way. As Dan noted last night, George is just about done wiith his slump. He hit the ball hard last night. He hit one to the wall today. He just missed going out in the 9th before Alex got the job done. One thing about this organization. They are patient. Hinch knows his guys far better than we do.. George is the lead off guy. Gattis is the DH. How many here wanted to send him packing in May? Jake, a guy that I wanted gone, is having a positive impact, sometimes in remarkable ways. Kemp is doing a great job right where we need him.

      Like

      • All good points daveb. But I’ve always (and still do) thought George would be better utilized in the 5 or 6 hole anyway. Kemp has a .390 OBP this year with Astros and he’s always been a .380 plus kind of guy in the minors. George’s OBP this season is .345. Over the course of the next 300 ABs that’s about 14 more times on base. If you look at George’s career splits, his best BA by far is when batting 6th in the order (but small sample size). Granted: George hits better (compared to himself) leading off an inning and with no runners on base.

        Like

  5. I can’t agree with you more Dave about Bregman, he’s definitely a stud with a very bright HOF future. Roadthriller, I kinda shared your sentiment about Kemp, esp if he maintains hitting for avg, but no way Hinch bumps the lineup to put him in the 1 hole. Earlier today I wrote this personal journal about GS while assessing some of the lineup:
    I once considered Springer a 5-tool prodigy but no more. At 28 (29 in Sept) his window for improvement, while still open, has shrunk. George has the requisite speed, arm strength, fielding ability & can hit for power. He does not always utilize his speed on the bases nor does he hit for avg. In his defense the Astros team wise run into a lot of outs stealing & Hinch employs an aggressive approach that allows such (my opinion). GS has a lot of swing & miss in his pa’s slumping but with patient/disciplined at bats knocks the cover off the ball. Those offensive outbursts he has allows him to flirt with very big #’s but he’s too streaky. And that’s sad for such a potentially great hitter because I can see him being right up there with the all time great hitters.
    I’m not hatin on GS, I know this man can rake ala that JD guy we let go. I’m hoping a more disciplined approach will help propel him atop the leaderboard.

    Like

    • Streaky, undisciplined. Is that the best profile for a team’s leadoff hitter? I appreciate the patience of the FO and they certainly seem committed to George leading off. But I’ve always viewed that posture as being one of “who else do we have that’s a better leadoff hitter?” as opposed to “there’s no better leadoff hitter than George Springer”. Kemp and Springer have about the same walk rate, but Kemp’s SO rate is far lower, and he’s more of a threat on the bases. If Kemp can develop a bit more patience, as in coaxing the pitcher to work more, I think he could be an excellent leadoff hitter. But, to daveb’s point, I do like him turning the lineup over from the 9-hole.

      Like

      • We have this same discussion at least once a year about George and then he wakes up and busts out of the slump he’s in. I’m looking for a really solid second half from him. And the great thing about this club is that they can go 16 and 3 while both George and Marwin are struggling. Tony has been a part of that. But he’s only got 87 at bats to go by on this trip up. Historically he has not produced at the big league level. I sure hope he’s figured it out finally. Boy what a boost that would be. Let’s see what he does going forward.

        Like

      • Thriller, you neve know. Alex could take over the leadoff job next year. But I think George is our guy for the duration this year anyway. It’s just the way Hinch rolls.

        Like

  6. To get my 12-7 record I had the Astros taking:
    2 of 3 from Toronto
    2 of 4 from Tampa Bay
    1 of 2 from Texas
    3 of 4 from Chicago and 2 of 3 from Detroit.
    I almost didn’t get my 2 from the Blue Jays.
    Charlie F. Morton pitched like an ace, has the record of an ace and followed up a loss by our ace with a huge shutout win.
    Today was an example of Keuchel not having to beat the other team’s ace. I’m just glad the Astros weren’t facing a Duffy or a Paxton today.
    Alex Bregman’s June and Evan Gattis’s June just points out where the Astros might stand if they had decent hitting earlier in the year. We also had the wrong left handed hitting left fielder for a month and a half.
    I’ll say it again. George Springer was fast until he decided to bulk up after his first season in the big leagues. Look at his legs now versus when he came up and you’ll see why the stolen bases have disappeared. That means he is a four tool guy with a very suspect plus hitting tool because of his batting average and his strikeouts. His three plus tools are now his power, his glove and his arm.
    Tony Kemp is a fit in the nine hole for now. But, I have Kyle Tucker starting in the outfield next spring.
    So what are teams going to do, walk Altuve and Bregman every time? The difference I see between Bregman and Correa/Springer is that Bregman can resist pitches outside the zone and the other two can’t. Bregman’s swing is much shorter and he adjusts to offspeed pitches mid-swing.

    Like

    • It’s great to have three ace type stoppers, all with excellent credentials. Hard to have a real losing streak. I’ll be pleased with a split against the Rays. Spunky group.

      Like

  7. Games like this is the glue that holds this team together for the long hot summer ahead of them. My neighbors must have thought my husband was beating me for all the noise I was making in the kitchen! I have watched that walk off 50 times…..I can’t get enough of it! Now to go play the crazy Rays, I still can’t understand how they keep winning with 3/4 of their starting rotation on the DL but they do! Astros just have to be one run better!! Good game! Becky⚾

    Like

  8. Becky is going to post “Wash our mouth out with soap”again, but my post of a couple days ago was how different KC winning the 2015 World Series and how they look today. I think the brain trust decided to let DK and (are you ready for this) Springer also to walk at the time of free agency. They are two great players, but everyone on your team can’t be paid $29 million a year. Someone has to get paid the league minimum or arbitration money. We still have this year and next with George at $12 million.

    Like

  9. The city of Houston would hog tie Jim Crane if he let Springer walk. Springer *IS* the heartbeat of this team along with Altuve. I won’t be that sad when we let Correa fly to New York to be their next Derrick Jeter…..but George Springer means a LOT to this city, and Crane knows it. The three who I hope we can keep here for the long haul are Altuve, Springer and Bregman. Build your team around these three and you will have success! My humble opinion only.
    You don’t have to wash your mouth out with soap Astrocolt45, just brush your teeth with clorox!!😍

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sorry I have to add Correa to the list of keepers. Shortstops with his skill set are hard to find. He’s been struggling lately but he will go on a run soon too. And even when he is struggling he is knocking in runs.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t see in Correa the drive to exceed that was there Last year. He looks content where he is.
        I might let the Yanks have him for the right price.

        Like

      • Correa is a “smoother” player than most of his colleagues – he will never look like he is trying too hard like a Springer for instance. But he is 4th among AL SS’s in runs scored, 4th in homers and 2nd in RBIs. And he has made only 2 errors on the season. I’ve sat through too many years of inferior short stops to just wave bye by to the guy who is the best hitting SS we have ever had.

        Like

      • he is settling into marriage and celebrity. it takes awhile to adjust. to me he is a cornerstone of this team for as long as they can keep him.

        Like

  10. Missed the live game yesterday but watched it later. Great comeback win. Can’t say enough about Bregman, Gattis Kemp, and others who contributed (Bull Pen). Keuchel needs to reinvent himself or he become a footnote. No velocity on his fastball. A good slider and curve ball would help. Especially since he’s a lefty. Most batters can just sit around and wait for that cheesy pitch and blast away. Doubt he’ll be here next year. i think that no matter what he does he’ll think he’s worth a lot more than he is. And we have McHugh and/or Peacock who can take his spot in the rotation at a lot less. Gerrit Cole is going to command some big bucks next year so I’m sure the brain trust is working on that.

    Like

  11. One thing I will say in defense of Dallas Keuchel. Yesterday he could have gone into a full fledged Lance McCullers meldown/ death spiral after giving up 5 runs in the first and 34 pitches. Instead he settled down and pitched efficiently and well to allow the Astros to make a game of it. It does not make up for an awful 1st, but they would not have won this game if he just continued to give up run after run past the first inning.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Yuli on paternity leave. Good for him -bad for us.

    Meanwhile, A.J. Reed [.266/.379/.915 with 18 HRs and 67 RBI for AAA Fresno] gets another shot.

    Like

  13. Carlos Correa is still a 23 year old kid, thrust into adulthood way earlier than most. I think he’s handling it pretty well.

    As far as his play on the field goes, the poise he showed just a year ago as a 22 year old, throughout the stretch run and playoffs was remarkable. And he’s worked as hard as anyone to become an excellent short stop. He’s a different personality than some of the other guys. Mr. Smooth will jump up and down again when the time comes. We’re lucky to have him.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. It is hard to keep this in perspective – but Correa has hit 76 career home runs as a SS (has a few more as a DH). He is the Astros’ career leader for SS’s – Adam Everett with 35 is next in line.
    Correa has 287 RBIs as a SS – the Astros’ career leader for a SS is Craig Reynolds, who had 300 in more than twice the ABs than Carlos.
    This is a position that has been an offensive waste land except for one shining season with Dickie Thon and a few good seasons out of Denis Menke.

    Like

  15. -It is currently 105 degrees in the shade of our carport.
    -I think it is very premature to talk about Correa’s future with the Astros. I do think it is fair to talk about his present.
    – Springer has another year of control after 2019. I just want to enjoy his charisma while he is here and try not to think more than two years down the road.
    -I wondered about Yuli seemingly having an “off” day yesterday. He usually makes a lot of contact and now I can see he might have been a little distracted.
    – Scoring about five runs off Stanek might mess up the process, right?
    -The Astros are tied with Boston for the highest BA in MLB at .266. The Astros have the lowest team ERA in MLB at 2.85. The Astros are tied with Arizona for the fewest errors in MLB at 29, with the Astros having played 2 more games. So, their offense, defense and pitching are pretty good.
    -After tonight’s game the Astros will have played 5 more games than the Yankees.

    Like

  16. Tonight’s line-up: Ugh! Not only do we not have Yuli [Tyler White at 1B], but we also don’t have Correa [Marwin has his ‘6’]. Not to worry, Jake is starting in CF.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thinking about Dallas Keuchel. Dallas is getting absolutely murdered early on in games by seeing-eye singles and soft line-drive bloopers that fall between the infielders and the outfielders. From now on in the 1st and 2nd innings – or until he gets in rhythm – I would try backing the middle infielders about 5 more steps back [more time to react] and putting the first-baseman about 2 steps further back as well.

    Like

    • Or we could be like the Rays and start our closer for the first couple of innings and then bring Keuchel in….oh that’s right we don’t have a closer…

      Liked by 2 people

      • I know you are joking [somewhat], Dan, but I am actually in favor of giving that idea a try. His problem is his first 35-40 pitches – and when in the game he throws those first 35-40 could be important. If things went well for Rondon [the most likely guy to be DK’s ‘opener’] perhaps DK could benefit from working through his ‘cold’ inning(s) against the lower part of the order instead of facing the top of the order.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, Dan. You just got my mind scheming over Michael McDonald’s hit – soon to be sung by A.J. Hinch: I keep forgettin’ . . . . Maybe it would go something like this:

        I keep forgettin’ Collin’s not our number 4;
        I keep forgettin’ DK costing tons and tons of dough!
        I keep forgettin’ cause it’s the first & there’s no score!
        I keep forgettin’, Dallas.

        I keep forgettin’ that thick beard is makin’ him sweat.
        I keep forgettin’ that McHugh is just a set up guy, you know!
        I keep forgettin’, don’t want Luhnow to be upset.
        I just keep forgettin’, Dallas.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Unfortunately, “Hang down your head Tom Dooley” was the first line that popped into my head as I envisioned Giles starting. So I think maybe this is not my forte.

        Like

  18. Mr. Bill – this isn’t harmony – but some more Mikey McD….. with the Doobie’s

    It’s so hard using you
    But they just can’t let you go
    Little Dallas, They fear you
    Little Dallas, They feed you
    Little Dallas, They flaunt you
    Little Dallas, got to pay you

    And if it means givin’ up one in five
    Oh, They’re gonna give it up, give it up
    There’s always one who performs better than the other
    They don’t mind, They don’t mind
    They’re willin’ to pay your price
    Have your turn at any sacrifice

    Little Collin, we need you
    Little Collin, we love you
    Little Collin, we want you
    Little Collin, got to have you

    Like

    • Sticking with the ‘Mc’ theme, that old ‘Mc’Cartney dude from Liverpool might say:

      Little Collin – I think your star is slowly risin’.
      Little Collin – this just might restart your career!
      Here comes ‘McGun’!
      Here comes ‘McGun’ and I say: It’s so right!

      Little Collin – your k’s have brought you to the forefront;
      Little Collin – it seems like years since DK won!
      Here comes ‘McGun’!
      Here comes ‘McGun’! And i say: It’s so right!

      – McGun, Gun, Gun – here he comes!
      McGun, Gun, Gun – here he comes!

      Little Collin – just throw a scoreless opening inning.
      Little Collin – it’s cool to keep the bases clear!
      Here comes McGun!
      Here comes McGun! and I say: It’s so right!

      Liked by 2 people

    • At least we have some pretty good options readily available – but losing Carlos for 10 days is going to hurt. Now we REALLY, REALLY, REALLY need George Springer to get hot!

      Like

      • As George strikes out to lead off today’s game, he is now 4 for his last 50 at bats. That’s batting well under .100 -i.e. substantially worse than Jake Marisnick – during that period. But, the thing about George is that he’s still hitting .260 for the year, and is still tied for the lead in HRs -all of which means he was really contributing gangbusters to our offense before this horrible slump set in.

        Like

      • And Springer K’s with the bases loaded. I think maybe he’s pressing way too much. Move him down in the order. It’s time.

        Like

  19. A hit and run line out double play helped Devo get out of a deep first and third with no one out hole.
    Yes – a few more runs would sure feel good right now.

    Like

  20. So, Jake basically is critical to two wins in a few games. McCullers was just terrific tonight. And they had luck too with a couple of double plays on hard hit balls late.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. My old heart can’t take too many games like this! A true nail biter!! They beat us 1-0 last week at our house….turn about is fair play!!

    Like

  22. Excellent, if imperfect win to open the series, with Carlos and Yuli out, George and Marwin still ice cold.

    Giles has not been used in a one run save situation all year. Is he done in that role with this club? I think so.

    Like

  23. Blue Jays trade Steve Pearce to Red Sox. Don’t know if this was to attempt to block the Yankees, or part of a tear down. If it is a tear down, I think we could look at a couple of their pitchers. (Just look)

    Like

  24. Today there is an article about international prospects on the Astros website. Cionel Perez was named as the top international prospect in our organization and then he gets called up.
    Remember that Perez had to be added to the 40-man last fall. That is one reason why he gets called up. Plus, he is the best lefty we have in the upper minors.
    His callup also explains Bielak’s corresponding promotion to CC from Buies Creek today.

    Like

  25. I’m curious what you think we’ll look like in 2019 and 2020. I was looking at the salaries and contracts so it should be interesting. Might be a good topic for discussion. I’ll hold my thoughts until then. Always fun and thought provoking on this site. Thanks Dan, for keeping us informed and entertained.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zanuda good idea. I have one ready to post right now on the halfway point of the season, but I’ll run with your idea sometime in the next week.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s