At around 5:30 p.m. today the Astros will find out which member of their team made the cut for this year’s All-Star Game.
The Astros are struggling for air at the bottom of the AL West, which really came as no surprise to anyone, be they a fan of the organization or not. There can be a lot of derision in America’s game, and Houston’s new alignment with the powerful Texas Rangers, now division rivals, has added some legitimate value to the Silver-Bootin’ Lone Star rivalry. The teams are facing off in Arlington this weekend, and though separated by a gulf in season records, both have star players.
While last year’s representative Jose Altuve has a very long shot of being called upon, there are two likely standouts for Houston.
The 26-year-old catcher out of Stanford is batting .269, with 23 doubles and 11 homers. He is young and still learning how to steer his pitchers through counts and innings. A very athletic defender and a powerful hitter (he had three hits on Friday night), his downfall is his occasional lapse in concentration, allowing some catchable pitches to scoot by him. Still, he is one of the premier on-base hitting catchers in the AL and would represent the Astros with enthusiasm.
Norris has had one of those seasons where his win-loss numbers are a poor reflection of how well he has actually pitched. The 28-year-old from Cal Poly has a 6-7 record, with a 3.22 ERA. He has 76 strikeouts to 35 walks through 109 innings, and has given up seven homers. His WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) is 1.37, compared to say that of Justin Verlander, who has a WHIP of 1.36. Norris is a talented pitcher and would put in good work should he be asked to join the show.
Tonight, the Astros face the Rangers in the second of a three-game series, and pitcher Yu Darvish is pretty much a shoe-in All-Star himself. Hopefully Saturday’s performance is sturdier than last night’s, and they can give the new I-45 rivals some much-needed retaliation.