The Astros are in the midst of an almost excellent and so far OK, 9 game homestand. They have played three top-performing teams in the L.A. Dodgers, San Diego Padres and the Boston Red Sox (one game so far) and have held their own. In fact, with some better help in the bullpen, they could easily be 5-1 instead of 3-3 at this point in the homestand.
There are some real positives to consider with the team as they head into June.
- Even without Michael Brantley, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel in the lineup, the team has shown pretty good firepower as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlo Correa, Kyle Tucker, Aledmys Diaz and Chas McCormick have led the charge.
- They have added three pitchers back to the rotation in Framber Valdez, Jake Odorizzi and Jose Urquidy, who all pitched very well in their re-starts with the team. (Technically, this was a kickoff for Framber who had not pitched yet). Lance McCullers should be back soon and along with Zack Greinke should make a solid five starters going forward.
- The bullpen has been a problem area with a big P. Getting Blake Taylor back, adding Cristian Javier to the mix and probably adding Luis Garcia in a week or so, should all help them going forward.
Some things that strike the eye when looking at the team…
- Kyle Tucker is leading the team in HRs (11), tied for the lead in runs scored (35) and is second in RBIs (35) despite a BAbip (batting averages ball in play) that is .233 vs. a major league average of .295. He has been very good in the month of May with a .296 BA/.378 OBP/.940 OPS slash and now that he has remembered to walk once in a while he has been on an upward arc.
- Chas McCormick has not gotten many at bats for the season, but with Brantley out, he is becoming a regular. His .203 AB/ .286 OBP have been nothing to write home about, but he has been productive for this team. His 14 runs scored, 4 HRs and 17 RBIs in 59 ABs project out to 119 runs, 34 HRs and 144 RBIs in 500 ABs and that is something to write home about.
- If I gave you this robust looking slash (.271 BA/ .397 OBP/ .876 OPS) could you figure out who is sporting it? The first hint is he has only 48 ABs this season. The second hint is he is on the IL. Give up? It’s Jason Castro.
- Even with some help coming to the bullpen, the Astros have to get better performances out of some who will not be going away, whether it is Brooks Raley (7.29 ERA) Joe Smith (7.04 ERA), Enoli Paredes (6.75 ERA), or Blake Taylor (6.75 ERA).
- Will Alex Bregman finally break the .300 average mark for a season? Most years he is digging out from a terrible start, but this season he is sitting at .298 BA as June begins.
The key here is that the team should be headed towards better health in June and that should mean a very solid month, especially with a month that on paper looks easier than the one they just finished.