How can the Astros already be at the quarter pole of the season? It feels like it just started a few weeks ago. Oh, yeah.
The Astros limped into Oakland after coughing up the last two games at Arizona and then left there on life support after putting up a feeble fight in a three-game sweep. They scored five runs in the sweep, and that included one of those runs in the 13th inning of the Friday night loss.
Heading home with their tails between their legs, the Astros are 6-9 and 5-1/2 games behind the A’s for the AL West, 1/2 game behind the Rangers (spit!) for the second spot in the division and 1-1/2 games behind the 8-8 White Sox and Rays for the second AL wild card and on a five-game losing streak.
If this all seems weird, it is an unusual spot for the Astros. In 2019, their nadir was on April 3, when they were 2-5 and 4-1/2 games behind Seattle. By Game 30 they took over the top spot in the division for good. In 2018, the Astros never had a losing record — they did start off the season 1-1 — and when they were 10-7 on April 16, they were 3-1/2 games behind the Angels. They spend most of the season at or near the top and finally took the division lead for good in Game 127. Back in 2017, they again never had a losing record, bottoming out at 3-3. On April 10 and 11 they were 1-1/2 games behind the Angels, but by Game 11, they took over the division lead and never looked back.
So, you have to go back to 2016 for a start like this. That season they were even worse, 5-10 after 15 games. On May 22nd they fell to 11 games under .500 at 17-28 and were 10 games back of Seattle. By game 60 (our full season) they had pulled up a little at 28-32 and by the end of the season, they were 84-78 – 11 games back of the Rangers (spit!) in the AL West and 5 games back of Toronto and Baltimore in the wild card race.
So what now? Well, you could just fire Dusty Baker, After all this start must be his fault and not the fact that his pitching staff is crippled and his veteran hitters are hitting like a bunch of newbies.
So instead of wishing for something that isn’t going to happen and would likely change little if it did…..let’s look at what is happening:
- Counterintuitively, the Astros are 3rd in the AL in scoring runs, while 12th in the league in allowing them. That seems backwards.
- In 2019 the Astros were 10-4 in extra-inning games and this year they are 1-3.
- In 2019 the Astros were 24-19 in one-run games and this year they are 1-4.
- In 2019 the Astros pitchers’ WHIP (walks + hits allowed per inning) was 1.130 – this season it is 1.450
- As a part, the Astros allowed 2.8 walks every nine innings last year and an unacceptable 4.7 this year
- And while the Astros are scoring a fair amount of runs, their hitting in the clutch stinks. They are hitting .175 BA with 2 outs and runner in scoring position. Their hitting in late and close games is .225 BA with a .267 OBP.
- They have not had good luck hitting so far – their babip (batting average on balls in play) is only .267.
- They are terrible so far in leading off the game with or without George Springer – hitting ,133 BA and .133 OBP – 2 for 15 with 2 singles and 8 Ks.
Is there really anything to do at this point other than hope that adding Yordan Alvarez, Springer, the real Jose Altuve (who must have been abducted by aliens), Justin Verlander and Jose Urquidy (if they all come back) to this team will turn things around?