Nine games into the 2020 Houston Astros season, there have been many ups and downs. They enter Monday at 5-4, tied for first in the AL West with the Oakland Athletics. However, they haven’t yet looked like the team that is supposed to compete for a World Series. Going into this season, it was the pitching staff that was the biggest question. To this point, the pitchers have performed admirably. It is the offense has been the shakiest. Here is an early season Astros analysis.
Astros Analysis: Pitching
Going into the 2020 season, there were a lot of doubts about the Astros pitching staff. Losing a co-ace in Gerrit Cole was going to be hard to replace. If people knew veterans like Justin Verlander, Roberto Osuna, Joe Biagini, Chris Devenski, and Ryan Pressly would be injured, they would have thought the Astros staff to be among the worst. That has not been the case. Despite having a pitching staff featuring ten rookies, their ERA is 3.49, fifth in the American League. The bullpen has been led by rookie lefty, Blake Taylor. The 24-year old has pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out nine.
The only major knock on the staff, is that they have walked the most batters in the AL, 49. The rookies have shown that the moment is not too big for them. Despite the walks, the pitching portion of this Astros season is very positive thus far. The Houston pitching staff has kept them in games, every game. However, the offense hasn’t always capitalized on the efforts of their staff.
Astros Analysis: Batting
The Houston Astros offense has, surprisingly, been very shaky. They’ve actually scored the most runs in the AL, 52, and yet they are just 5-4. The biggest contributor to the inconsistencies is the inability to get the big hit. Three of their past four games have gone to extra innings, with Houston losing two of those three.
Houston’s biggest star power has actually been the biggest reason for their shaky offensive start. The trio of George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman have combined to hit .183, with just five home runs, and 25 strikeouts. The duo of Carlos Correa and Michael Brantley has kept this lineup afloat. Correa has had some clutch hits this year, and his slashline is .333/.421/.521. Brantley has been a hit machine, and his slashline is .438/.514/.656, all among the best in the league. Without Correa and Brantley, Houston very well could be at the basement of the AL West, instead of the top.
Outlook Looking Forward
Despite a shaky start, the Astros are in a great position. Their staff is pitching better than anyone could have imagined. Their lineup has been inconsistent, but is showing signs of life.
Bregman and Springer have had some clutch hits in the past couple games, including Bregman’s go-ahead hit in extras versus the Angels. Better yet, they will have reinforcements coming in two weeks or so, as designated hitter Yordan Alvarez and right-handed pitcher Jose Urquidy should be ready to return. The Astros aren’t quite where they want to be yet, but they can see that place on the horizon. The sky is still the limit for this Astros squad.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images