A team that has been under massive scrutiny from the media while finishing last place in the past three seasons, the Houston Astros are starting to show the signs of life they had anticipated when they started calling up their prospects to the major league club. It has been a roller coaster kind of season for the Astros, who have the second worst record in the major leagues. Other than a seven-game winning streak at the end of May, the Astros have struggled mightily with growing pains for most of the season. The last two series have been a different story for the Astros, who are showing vast improvements in multiple areas of their game.
The young Astros team beat the Toronto Blue Jays today, 6-1, and with it, won their second series in a row. After dropping the opener, the Astros took the next three games with relative ease from the wildcard hopeful Blue Jays. The Astros are now looking much better than the team leading into the All-Star break. Good news for the Astros and their fans, the team has been clicking on all cylinders.
Like most of the season, the starting pitching has been great over the last week for the Astros. Scott Feldman has had two phenomenal starts, including today’s complete game in which he gave up one run on eight hits. Astros ace Dallas Keuchel threw his fourth complete game of the season against the Oakland A’s lowering his ERA under three. Recently re-called pitcher Brett Oberholtzer has also pitched very well for the Astros, getting two wins in both of his starts during the last week of play with an ERA of 3.29.
More surprisingly, the Astros have started to hit the baseball. With outfielders George Springer and Dexter Fowler on the disabled list, it didn’t seem like the Astros were in position to score very many runs. However, the Astros have scored more than five runs in six of their last seven games. Even more shockingly, they are doing it without the home run ball.
For most of the season, the Astros seemed to only score runs when a home run was hit. The opposite has been true in their last two series. The Astros hitters have been making better contact and have started driving the ball to the opposite side of the field. This is leading to big innings on offense, giving the starting pitching a chance to get deeper in the game while saving the bullpen, which is the team’s biggest weakness.
The Astros look like they are starting to gel as a team. There is a solid nucleus of young talent on the roster to build upon for next season. The rest of the year will be interesting to watch as the team continues to develop. Winning is nice, but for a young team like the Astros, seeing a group of young players start to figure themselves out as major leaguers is just as rewarding.