Houston Astros: Key Factors In Second Half Of Season

By Daniel Jamieson
justin maxwell
Kim Klement – USA Today Sports

The Houston Astros enter the second half of the season in last place in the AL West, leagues behind the division-leading Oakland Athletics.

Astros coach Bo Porter is adamant, however, that the goals this season do not revolve around wins and losses but rather about eyeballing the brightest up-and-comers and figuring out a solid future for the club.

After a dreadful 10-30 start to the 2013 campaign, Houston found a spark with the bats and reduced its strikeout stats, which at one point looked on course to set an all-time record in MLB. Home runs have started coming more frequently for the club’s strong-arms, such as Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez, which was huge in elevating the number of runs scored per game.

Infield play has been very strong for the team, as they lead the majors in double-plays turned. Stalwart second-baseman Jose Altuve signed an option four-year contract extension earlier this month, a great indicator of youthful determination to stick with the plan of rebuilding. On the other hand, the Astros need to reduce the high number of double-plays they hit into, a figure which also hovers around the top of the league, if they are to make the most of their defensive output behind the pitcher.

Pitching has been a struggle for Houston all season, especially from the bullpen. Porter has mixed things up, including sending some relievers down and relegating last year’s breakout star Lucas Harrell to the bullpen. Jordan Lyles, 22, has what looks like the makings of a cool-headed star, and the excitement that Jarred Cosart caused in his one-day tryout is still very much at fever pitch.

August and September will likely be the time when the Astros invite a number of their prospects up from the minors and take a look at exactly what they’re working with. Reports indicate that the future of the club is very bright, and fresh faces are just what the fans need right now.

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