By Nina Zimmerman on May 27, 2014
While the Houston Astros still hold sole possession of last place in the AL West, things finally seem to be coming together for the team. The Astros’ 20-32 record so far in 2014 belies the hot streak the team is on right now, riding a three-game win streak as the second month of the season draws to a close. Here are five players whose contributions to the team now and along the way make them irreplaceable.
Though Collin McHugh had his struggles after a brief period of post-call-up dominance, he’s still proving to be a valuable part of the Astros’ rotation despite not having a win since Apr. 27. McHugh is 2-3 on the season with a 3.32 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, and in his most recent start against the Los Angeles Angels he only gave up two earned runs in seven innings on the mound.
The Astros are a mix of mostly younger players with a few veterans here and there this season. Providing a veteran presence in the starting rotation that’s done its fair share of rotating so far this year, opening day starter Scott Feldman is 3-2 on the year with a 3.02 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Feldman’s consistency this season is both a plus to his career and a plus to the Astros as they forge a team identity.
Dallas Keuchel seems to be coming into his own for the Astros this year, with a 6-2 record, 2.55 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 10 starts. He also leads the Astros’ rotation in wins, ERA and strikeouts. The young right-hander has only allowed eight earned runs combined in his five starts in May and is 4-0 in the month with 31 strikeouts in 40.1 innings pitched.
Jose Altuve continues to exemplify that perhaps size doesn’t matter in baseball. The five-foot-six second baseman has a slash line of .323/.366/.441 in 2014, leads the Astros in batting average and, according to some, has a strong case as an underdog MVP candidate even this early in the season.
Between Jose Altuve and George Springer, it’s hard to choose a player for the top irreplaceable spot. I give the honor to the rookie Springer, who, after struggling out of the gate upon being called up, is on a monster tear right now. He’s 7-for-13 with 10 RBIs in the Astros’ last three games and has finally begun to show signs of his enormous potential, making the future in Houston a little brighter already.
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