Astros look to rebound before All-Star break
The Houston Astros returned home after a road trip that didn’t go as well as they might have hoped, despite a pair of back-to-back wins over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Before the two wins against the Cardinals, the Astros went 4-5, including a 1-3 series loss against their American League West rival Texas Rangers and a 1-2 series loss against the sub-.500 Tampa Bay Rays.
Entering the road swing, Astros had won 11 of their last 13 games, beginning with a series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles that was their first of the season. A 6-5 mark over their last 11 games comes as a disappointment for a team looking like they were finally getting over their tough start and return to the division race.
Astros finished the first month of play in 2016 with a 7-17 record and without back-to-back wins. In 2015, they jumped out to a 15-7 mark, including seven straight wins to end the month.
In contrast, the 2016 Astros didn’t rattle off their first win streak of at least three games until late May.
Though they only trail the Seattle Mariners by three games in the division, and sit four and a half games back of the second AL Wild Card spot, the Astros can’t seem to string together a consistent run.
The struggles of ace pitcher Dallas Keuchel continue to be a mystery, as last year’s Cy Young Award recipient has just a 3-9 record and a 5.54 ERA this season.
While Keuchel hasn’t lived up to expectations, Doug Fister has picked up the slack as the premier starter in the rotation. Fister has a 7-3 record in 13 starts and in 80 innings pitched. He also has 50 strikeouts and a 3.26 ERA, which is lowest of the starting rotation.
The bullpen has tried their best to keep the Astros in games, but with three starters holding an ERA of 4.76 or worse, they need some help on the front side to keep their appearances meaningful.
Three of the Astros’ next four series come against opponents with sub-.500 records, including two at home against the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Angels. They will then hit the road for a pair of series against the 35-30 Kansas City Royals and a three-game stint against the Angels.
If the Astros want to gain ground in both their divisional and wild card races before the All-Star break, now is the time to do it. Otherwise, it’s too little too late.