Plenty of teams suffer from the injury bug every season, but when the roster gets bitten where you can least afford it, problems occur quickly and can change the outlook of the future significantly.
The Houston Astros are a perfect example of injuries bringing out the flaws in a team and exploiting them in the worst way.
All season long, pitching depth has been the strength the young Houston team has rallied around to stay relevant in their hunt for the playoffs. On the flip side, the offense was always the question mark for the Astros as they exhibit the epitome of a boom-or-bust unit.
Heading into September, the Astros’ pitching staff leads the American League in ERA at 3.29 as well as WHIP at 1.17. Dominating opposing lineups as a collective unit, teams are hitting just .236 against Houston pitching. They have 10 shutouts to go along with six complete games. The starting rotation as well as the bullpen have held up their end of the bargain in the makeup of a winning formula.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the offense.
Even though the Astros are second in the league in home runs with 174 — trailing only the Toronto Blue Jays at 180 — Houston is last in the AL with a .241 batting average, showing the inability to string hits together to score runs. They have a better average with runners in scoring position, but .285 is hardly a number to write home about.
The struggles on offense can be attributed mainly to injuries the team has suffered in the lineup throughout the year.
When the Astros’ offense was clicking on all cylinders earlier in the season, their lineup was at full strength. Following a fast ball that sailed inside on outfielder George Springer at the end of June, that all changed. When he went down with a broken wrist, the lineup took a hit and the Astros looked like a completely different offensive squad, scoring nearly a half a run less per game.
More from Houston Astros
- Astros-Twins Wild Card Series: 5 things to know as MLB postseason begins
- Houston Astros: Playoffs require stronger finish
- Houston Astros: Three reasons why team should trade Josh Reddick now
- Houston Astros: Assessing the lineup without Yordan Álvarez
- Houston Astros: Why the pitching rotation is coming together at right time
The good news is Springer is currently on a rehab assignment and is expected back sooner rather than later. The bad news… star shortstop, and favorite for AL Rookie of the Year, Carlos Correa has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury, leaving the offense in even worse shape.
Although the injury isn’t considered to be serious, the series against the Minnesota Twins highlights how fragile the Astros’ lineup is at the moment and won’t be able to sustain success unless they get both Springer and Correa back at full health.
I am all for keeping Correa out until he is 100 percent ready to go considering his health for the future is what really matters, but with September call-ups around the corner, the Astros need to call up offense-heavy players to help get them through the home stretch until their horses are ready to work. Otherwise, the postseason has a real chance of slipping away in the final month of the season.
Click here for all the latest on the Houston Astros.