Houston Astros fans were getting restless and I’m sure the players, staff and front office felt similarly.
After an opening day win against the Yankees, the Astros managed to lose 8 of their next 11 before winning on Sunday. And Sunday’s win led to the first series win for the Astros this season.
At 5-8 through 13 games, things could be worse for the Astros, but things appear to be pretty promising. It’s time for fans to RELAX.
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Going down the order, both Colby Rasmus and Tyler White have been huge bright spots. The outfielder has the highest OBP on the team (.431), whereas White leads the Astros in batting average (.357), slugging percentage (.714), OPS (1.143) and is tied for the team-lead in home runs with 4.
However, after the top five, things get considerably worse. Carlos Gomez and Evan Gattis (recently off the DL) have yet to hit their strides with a .190 and .167 batting average respectively. Luis Valbeuna is hitting .189 and Jason Castro is at .167. The only positive contribution from down in the order was from Gattis’ early season replacement, Preston Tucker, who hit .269. He will likely split DH duties for the time being.
Even though the hitting has been pretty good, the pitching, outside of Dallas Keuchel (2.18 ERA), has yet to find its rhythm. Scott Feldman has the lowest ERA of the rest of the rotation with a 3.48 ERA in two starts. The other three starters all have ERA’s north of six.
A major strength early on for last year’s Astros was their bullpen and half of the pen has done its job through the middle of the month. Closer Luke Gregerson (4 saves) has been lights out, not allowing a run in five innings this season. Will Harris (1.42 ERA) and Pat Neshek (2.08 ERA) have been plenty dependable as well.
The usually-reliable Tony Sipp has allowed three runs in 4.2 innings this season. His 5.79 ERA figures to get much lower once he gets more innings under his belt. Newest acquisition Ken Giles has already served up three home runs, the same amount he served up in his entire career previous to Houston. Josh Fields has also struggled, allowing six runs in 6.1 innings pitched.
Looking at these numbers, it’s not a big surprise the Astros are three games below .500, but it’s certainly not any reason to panic. There’s reason to believe both the offense and pitching staff will get better.
Something that hasn’t changed yet from last season is the Astros inability to hit with runners in scoring position, a big reason they’ve already lost 8 games. Their average with RISP is below .200 and if they could normalize it to a league-average number, then that should lead to more wins on its own.
Otherwise, it’s more of the same for the Astros who rank in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories, outside of home runs and stolen bases. Those two categories were the Astros bread and butter last season and they continue to rank near the top.
This team is a team that will struggle throughout the season. Most teams in baseball have bad stretches of baseball and lets just hope the Astros got their big one out of the way. 13 games is a really small sample size in a 162-game baseball season. Let’s wait another few weeks before we start worrying about certain players and tendencies from the Astros.
Still, Sunday’s win was a big win for the team and this should help build some confidence as they head north to Arlington to face off against the Texas Rangers.
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