Astros 2020: Can they save the season?

For most of the 2020 season, fans have thought that the Astros would be in the playoffs. As recently as last Friday, the Astros entered the first game of the Angel series with a 6-1/2 game lead for second place in the AL West division which would have guaranteed them a playoff spot about three weeks from now.

Now after the carnage of a Lost Weekend at Anaheim, where the team not only lost 4 games in the span of less than 48 hours, but lost them in a very disheartening manner, the picture is not so clear.

The Astros only have a 3 game lead over the 3rd place Mariners in their division. They currently are tied for the 7th spot in the AL playoff race, which means either they or the Yankees are the current 8th place team and if the M’s overtook them they could miss both the second place spot, and a Wild Card spot also. On top of that they play the next 7 games on the road against the A’s (who swept them in Oakland earlier) and the Dodgers (who swept them in Houston earlier). Oh, and their pitching is a bit of a shambles with Justin Verlander still out, Lance McCullers Jr. going 0 innings in his last start and ending up on the IL, and Jose Urquidy on a pitch count as he returns from COVID.

The Astros have had three things happen in the last few games that could drop the team off the cliff.

  • Four doubleheaders in a 14-game period due to COVID, hurricane and protest.
  • Short starts in three of the last four games (0 innings McCullers, 3.2 innings for Brandon Bielak and Urquidy)
  • Pitchers, especially the bullpen, have lost leads or lost ball games late in each of the 4 Angel losses. Though truth to tell when you have blown saves by Enoli Paredes and Humberto Castellanos things are not running per Hoyle anyways.

The pitching staff is at a tipping point. On the positive side they have gotten great starts from the likes of Zack Greinke, Cristian Javier and until Sunday Framber Valdez, who gutted things out mightily until being asked to pitch one inning too long. They do have Jose Urquidy, Chris Devenski and Brad Peacock back, though only Urquidy pitched effectively on the weekend.

They do have Justin Verlander sightings as he is now working off a mound. But they also are staring at two games in the upcoming Oakland series lined up to be started by Luis Garcia and the ubiquitous TBD. Despite a sterling 4 2/3 innings by Garcia in relief of McCullers on Friday, it is a lot to expect from a young man who had never pitched above A+ ball to start a key game against the 1st place team in the division.

A key morale booster would be Alex Bregman‘s return to the lineup, which is expected soon and the return of Jose Altuve, which may be a bit longer. Along with their bats, the team has been missing their gloves the last few games.

It is highly critical that the Astros get six or seven innings from Greinke and Javier and save the fragments of the bullpen for the Garcia and TBD games. If the team can survive this week, the rest of the season features much easier fare between the Rangers, D’Backs and Mariners. But it won’t make a difference if they don’t play better than they did against the Angels.

26 comments on “Astros 2020: Can they save the season?

  1. Dan,

    I left my long post of the day on your last post. But really, how much does getting into the 2020 post season really matter. 16 teams go? After a 60 game season where some teams play more road games than others? And never see most teams? And extra innings (a real Astro bugoboo) are contrived? Bottom line is that the eventual World Series Champs will not be real World Series Champs. There will be a big, fat asterisk attached.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t have confidence they can stay in the running for the division. Seven games in six days on the road against two first place teams? They lost four games in a row to a last place team.
    This is 2020. If it is bad, it is going to happen.
    Michael Brantley was hot and it didn’t help. Kyle Tucker is hot and it didn’t help. Those two guys stepped up and led and nobody followed.
    It has been three years since it felt like this. 2016. Oh, well.

    Liked by 2 people

      • The key to a loaded 2021 is Verlander. If he is hurting they will be OK but not terrific. If he is back at full strength and starting every turn – I like our chances. If he is off and on – we will be too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dan, he’s big key, but as we’ve found out in short order, we need a healthy staff in general. And I still think we might need a couple of new outfielders in 2021. Reddick seems to be a pretty old 33. Not sure if I’d want him for 5 million next year.

        Like

  3. Just noticed that Teoscar Hernandez just went down with an injury. Also noticed that he’s got 14 homers and a .995 OPS. Has he found himself at 27? Also was looking at Cavan Biggio. He’s a better hitter at 25 then his father was. He also plays a very solid 2nd base and anywhere in the outfield. But what impresses me most is that he’s got 18 career stolen bases and has never been thrown out. Dad was not that good.

    Like

  4. On the plus side – Alex Bregman returns today. On the negative side both Chris Devenski and Blake Taylor go on the IL.
    We may have seen the last of Devenski as an Astro. I know he has not been good for a while, but he was darned good his first couple years with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Confession of a blogger…
    I normally watch a good part of each game or DVR and hit the highlights. Last night I did not tune in until the 9th inning – when both Tucker and Correa hit the stuffing out of the ball and the CF caught Tucker’s against the fence and Correa’s deep but right at him.
    I then erased the DVR.
    Looking at the box score and the play by play, it was one of those games where we only hit singles (7) and one walk and where we weren’t allowed to have more than two guys on base in any inning. Looked like we hit some hard hit balls that were caught at crucial times.
    Javier pitched well, only had problems in the 2nd inning and the bullpen did their normal job of giving up runs and letting the game get out of reach.

    Liked by 2 people

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