As the first-half of the 2014 season comes to a close, it is evident that the Houston Astros still have a long way to go before they improve enough to compete for a division title. They have had some encouraging signs of being on the right path. The team is infused with young talent ahead of schedule. However, some of the same problems that have been plaguing the Astros over the past few seasons are still are lingering with the team to this point.
The Astros have been dealing with a terrible bullpen all season long. They lead the league in ERA with 5.02. On top of not being good, Astros’ manager Bo Porter has been using the relievers on a whim, bringing in pitchers for one batter at a time in hopes to limit the damage of leaving them in too long. It has not worked so far and the team would be wise to call up new players who can give the club a different look than the same unreliable relievers that have been trotted out night after night.
The Astros have made it a point to call up young players to give the fans something to be excited about. It has worked when you look at how attendance is on the rise from this point last season. Unfortunately, not all of the players that have been called up have had great success. Despite their pedigree, it seems some of the position players that have been called up are being let down by the coaches.
The Astros’ offense has been in an overall slump for most of the year. A player or two is no big deal, but when almost the entire lineup is struggling, some fingers need to be pointed. Hitting coach John Mallee’s job should be on the line if the Astros continue to struggle to hit. The players almost look lost at the plate at times.
When the only pitch you can hit consistently is a fastball, major league pitching is going to figure that out eventually. Now, the Astros see a heavy dose of off-speed pitches and don’t look as if they can do anything about it. Mallee should have the rest of the season to prove that he deserves the job and if he doesn’t, he must go. The Astros’ future relies on its young players and if they don’t have any confidence at the plate, the Astros’ plan to rebuild was all for nothing.