As of right now, first baseman/designated hitter Carlos Pena (35 years old), starting pitcher Erik Bedard (34), outfielder Rick Ankiel (33) and reliever Jose Veras (32) are statistically keeping the team down. None of these four players has been able to get it going in 2013, which is not helping Houston’s cause in the competitive American League West.
Pena is the only one of the four who is actually been somewhat productive this season. He has gone through stretches of consecutive games with zero hits, but he has also produced a couple of two-hit performances with one three-hit contest in a win against the Seattle Mariners. However, it took him 14 games to finally hit a home run. Not to mention, a .250 batting average simply is not going to cut it from the designated hitter.
Bedard is supposed to be the starter who provides the veteran leadership in the rotation, but he has done the complete opposite. I am sure he has been a positive voice for the other starters in the clubhouse, but his performance on the field is working against that. The Astros can accept a 0-1 record in two starts, but they cannot live with a 7.04 earned run average in three outings.
Ankiel got off to a hot start in which he went 1-for-2 with the first home run of the Major League season. Unfortunately, he followed that up with five consecutive hitless games in which he went 0-for-12 at the plate. Ankiel has only mustered four hits in 25 at-bats, but at least he has been able to knock in five runs. Even though it is still very early, Ankiel must figure out his offensive game soon.
Houston acquired Veras in the offseason to be the leading candidate for the closer job. They even paid him $2 million for this season with a $3.25 million option for 2014. Unfortunately, the Astros have only had two save opportunities so far this season, and Veras blew one of them in his last outing on April 13. Not to mention, his 9.64 ERA is not ideal as well.
Houston is doing better than most people gave them credit for, even with only four wins in 14 games. The most disappointing part about it is the team would be doing so much better if the veterans could step up and do their job like they are supposed to. Hopefully, the four players mentioned will figure it out soon.