It’s kind of unfair. Fans wait forever – up to 56 seasons (depending on our age and when we began cheering for them) for their Houston Astros to win a World Championship and then after they do, in a blink of an eye, the celebration is over and the angst over the next season returns. Is this why Yankee fans are sometimes the most miserable human beings on the planet. The 27 championships are in the rear view mirror and here they are in misery because their team falls short of the apex. Nine-year drought! OMG!!!
Yet here we are. Despite the fact our favorite team has been at the head of the division for the majority of the season, the lead has been tenuous due to the better competition in the division this season. In 2017, the Astros cruised easily into the postseason. Yes, we had some doubts when the team slumped in August, but September brought a rebirth behind the Justin Verlander trade and the team put on a great run of clutch play throughout the playoffs.
On September 20th, the Astros are 95-57 and if they go 6-4 against the Angels, Orioles and Blue Jays, all of whom are playing out the string, they will match last year’s record.
So what’s bugging us about this team and should it?
- The Astros offense is not as good as last season and seems to disappear at the drop of a hat
- However……Please, be reminded of the ALCS against the Yanks. The team had let a 2-0 lead in the series drop to a 3-2 deficit. Even their two wins were both 2-1 squeakers. They had scored only 9 runs in the first five games and were coming off a 5-0 whitewashing headed into two – win or go home games. But they got enough offense and a ton of pitching and took those last two games.
- The relievers meltdown at the wrong times
- However……Please, remember that there is no good time for relievers to meltdown and that frankly, the core of this relieving corps has been very good in most situations. This bullpen is a lot deeper than the one that melted down a ton of times in the 2017 playoffs and there will be pitchers left off this playoff roster that would be in their competitor’s ‘pen if they had them.
- The starters are older and after being lights out earlier in the season have shown holes in their game in the last month or so.
- However……Last season heading into the playoffs the team did not know how pitchers like Charlie Morton or Lance McCullers would react in the playoffs. Even with some rough spots, those two helped win some of the biggest games during the playoffs. They have them plus veterans Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Dallas Keuchel and overall they should be in good shape in the starter area (most games).
- In 2017, the Astros were the Kings of the Late Innings coming back over and over again even with large late deficits. That has not been happening this season.
- No “Howevers” here……If a fan wants to worry about this team, this is the area where they should be concerned. In many of their greatest seasons, the Astros rode late-inning magic. There is something about those comebacks and walk-off wins that not only energized the club, but raised their own expectations that games were never over. In 2018, that has just not been happening nearly as often as in 2017.
- The Astros no longer have the best SS/2B duo in the majors.
- No “Howevers” here either…. Carlos Correa was not up to snuff before his stint on the DL and has been a negative offensive force since his return. Jose Altuve is down (for him) and not near the offensive catalyst he has been the last few years for the Astros. Having a great SS/2B combo was a big advantage over most teams. Not this year.
- The Astros play dumb and can’t play small ball.
- Partial However…… In 2017 they were running into outs too, just like this year, though it is still a bother. The number of double plays they are grounding into is also a concern. Old ball with bunts and move-overs maybe will not return wholesale, but there will be times in the playoffs where getting one run in may be the difference in a game.
So what is bugging you this year?