I’ve probably shared this story with my friends here, but it is a good one and gets to the core of things. When my dear wife was a bit of a rebellious teen ager she would get into “discussions” with her dad. She would tell him, “Don’t worry about me.” And he would say “I’m not worried….I’m concerned.”
That goes for all of us Astro fans out in the web-dom. At this point in the season (to be honest this is true for the whole season), we are concerned about our favorite team. But should we be?
Here are reasons why we should / should not be concerned about the Astros.
Concerned – The Astros have been stumbling lately.
Since about a month ago (July 15) they lost 5 games to the A’s including a sweep in Oakland, lost a series to the Red Sox at home, split a series with the Guardinians and gave away the first two games of the current White Sox series.
Not Concerned – The Astros overall are playing fine.
In the same time period, the Astros have been doing well. On July 15, they were 10 games up on the Mariners in the AL West and are 11 games up today. They were 3.5 games behind the Yankees for the best record in the AL, and now they are 2.5 games up on them. In that time period they won 6 of 7 against the M’s and swept a couple games from the Yankees. And after hearing a lot of crap about losing those games to the A’s they bore down and swept Oakland last week.
Concerned – The Astros’ offense is a bit shaky
In the same time period, they lost 12 games and averaged an anemic 2.6 runs/game in those losses. They have a real tendency to score early in games and have the offense go underground for the duration of the games. The Astros are 30th and last in the majors in scoring runs in the 7th inning and later.
Not Concerned – The Astros’ offense is overall solid
Most teams tend to score way below average when they lose, including the Astros in previous years. Along with not scoring well late in the games, they are 2nd in the majors in scoring between the 1st and the 6th innings. After ending April scoring 3.8 runs/ game (9th in the AL) they have steadily improved to where they are scoring 4.48 runs/game on the season – tied for 4th in the AL and about to pass the Twins for third.
Concerned – The Astros are expecting too much out of their starting pitchers
The team unloaded Jake Odorizzi before the deadline before Lance McCullers Jr. pitched at the major league level after recovering from his arm injury. Sure, Lance looked real good in his first game back, but we relied on him in 2021 and ended up without him in the middle of the playoffs. Are we setting ourselves up for more disappointment.
Not Concerned – The Astros are not where they were last year
Even with Odorizzi gone, the Astros have 6 pitchers that have been between good and great this season as starters. Last season McCullers was their top pitcher along with Framber Valdez and they had Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia in behind them and Odorizzi in reserve. This season McCullers would be at best the third best starter. They are deep, much deeper than last season and with their younger pitchers much more experienced in a much better situation than in 2021.
Concerned – The bullpen has good arms, but….
Will they be overworked and out of gas when the playoffs arrive? Guys like Rafael Montero have been pitching way over their career stats. They seem to choke a bit when things get tight. It felt like they needed another big arm at the deadline, and that arm wasn’t Will Smith.
Not Concerned – The bullpen will be bolstered
Even though it sometimes drives us crazy, Dusty works hard to ensure he spreads those bullpen innings around. We may wince when we see Phil Maton in a late-inning situation or Bryan Abreu finishing off a game, but he is trying to make sure he gets the guys adequate rest. On top of that, the bullpen will get a boost in the playoffs, where the team usually uses a four-man rotation. One or two of Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy, and Cristian Javier will be in that bullpen, ready to give the team multiple innings of relief as needed.
Concerned – But getting back to that offense….
With Michael Brantley gone and perhaps Aledmys Diaz out for a while, the offense seems a bit light, especially in center and left field. Yuli Gurriel does not belong in that second spot, and the lineup always feels like it has a hole or two in it.
Not Concerned – The offense is OK
Trey Mancini is not quite the .300 hitter that Brantley was, but he is a solid hitter and certainly has a lot more power than Uncle Mike. He should benefit from a home field that favors a right-handed power hitter much more than his field in Baltimore. Christian Vazquez gives them a boost at backup catcher, and Martin Maldonado has been one of the Astros’ hotter hitters the last month. Chas McCormick has been doing better as he has seen more pitching lately. And that doesn’t even mention Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, and Kyle Tucker, who I contend are all in the top 20 hitters in the AL right now.
Concerned – The team wins despite Dusty Baker
Everybody on this blog could win 100 games with this team’s talent. The team has to overcome all of Dusty’s dumb lineups and weird decisions on off days for his players.
Not Concerned – C’mon Man
This writer will lean towards the guy who has won the 9th most wins in major league history and who has taken five different teams to the playoffs in his career. Yes, no World Series titles so far, but none for Jeff Bagwell or Craig Biggio either.
So…..are you concerned or not about this team? And what concerns you?