The MLB shortened 60-game schedule is now 25% complete for the Astros and feeling 100% hopeless as of late.
Houston finds themselves with a 6-9 record after being swept over the weekend by the AL West leadng Oakland A’s. The sweep of the Astros was the first for the A’s since the 2017 season and secured a 5.5 game lead over Houston in the division.
The year of COVID has kept throwing jabs at the 2017 World Series champions via injuries, underperforming all-stars, and questionable in-game decisions late in ball games.
With that being said, let’s examine things a little more closely, and hand out some quarter-season awards.
It’s tough to find good things amidst the shaky start for the Astros, but optimism is key during times like these.
The silver lining of the dark cloud that has been Astros baseball has without a doubt been the play of Carlos “Mr. She Knows” Correa.
Entering his sixth year of professional play, Correa has yet to live up to his full potential. Carlos has dealt with a plethora of injuries during his five years wearing an Astros uniform, and has only eclipsed a .300 batting average once over the course of a season.
This year feels different.
Los is off to a scorching start in 2020 leading the team in BA, OPS, and WAR (.345; .956; 0.9). Correa is also taking care of business with the glove and has a perfect fielding percentage of 1.000 thus far in 2020 to prove it.
Unfortunately for the Astros, they were hit early and often by the injury bug, losing ace pitcher and 2019’s Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, closer Roberto Osuna, a plenitude of relief pitchers, and minor absences by George Springer and Michael Brantley.
Last year's American League Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez and a hopeful rotation arm Jose Urquidy have also been MIA in 2020. Injuries happen to every team. Those who are called upon to fill the void have to find a way to perform, and it isn’t happening for Houston.
The Astros looked to young flame thrower Josh James to help fill a vacancy in the rotation this year and he has been disappointing in every appearance as he has struggled mightily to find the strike zone, leading the team with 11 walks in 7 innings pitched.
Lance McCullers has also failed to provide hope from the mound, with an ERA ballooning up to 9.22 after a dreadful start in Arizona.
The beloved Lance that once threw 24 straight curveballs to whiffing Yankees has yet to be seen this year, but his team desperately needs that LMC to show up.
For all the short comings that have reared their ugly head from the arms of Astros pitchers, that is NOT what should be concerning Houston fans most right now.
The lack of offensive production is terrifying. More specifically, hitting with runners in scoring position and the absence of contributing swings from all stars like Jose Altuve and George Springer should be setting off alarms all over the third coast.
Altuve, the three-time batting champion and former MVP looks more lost at the plate than Kane Brown on a midnight stroll.
Altuve has a batting average sitting at an abysmal .182, OPS of.616, and WAR of -0.2, second worst on the team only to Myles Straw whose speed has run him straight into being a liability every time he steps on to the field.
Springer, who is in a contract year with Houston, is also batting .182 and dealing with multiple ailments. As a whole, the Astros have been miserable at hitting the pill with runners in scoring position, currently ranking 20th in the league.
As runners reach second base for Houston, the bats disappear, the outs pile up, and the result is 8.36 runners left on base per game. That ranks 29th in all of Major League Baseball. Not a winning combination.
The Astros still have one of the most talented rosters in all of Major League Baseball. The changes made to the playoff format this year look more appealing than ever. As of now, Houston is still very likely a playoff team. However, to be more than that will take an awakening of the bats, some luck, and better pitching out of the pen.
MVP without a doubt goes to Carlos Correa. He seems to be the only one who showed up ready to grip it and rip it this year.
Brandon Bielak. The Astros may have caught lightning in a bottle with this kid. ERA at. 0.87 and only 6 hits over 10.1 innings pitched.
(Honorable mention Framber Valdez and Blake “The Bulldog” Taylor.)
Manager Dusty Baker. Can he adapt to modern baseball and analytics?
The former MVP, Jose Altuve.
Lance McCullers. Only thing he’s doing right thus far.
(Honorable mention, La Pina)
Zack Greinke. Grunts are still echoing throughout my house.
(Honorable mention, Astros fans watching from their couch in disgust)