To this point, it has been a season of ups and downs for the Houston Astros. Fortunately, they are in the middle of a large up. On the heels of a five game losing streak, Houston has won seven out of eight, including a six game winning streak. While the offense still isn’t completely clicking yet, it has gotten some of the big hits they were missing out on during their losing streak. However, without the incredible pitching performances they have received, the story might be different. From the starters to the bullpen, the Astros winning streak is fueled by elite pitching.
Starting Pitching Performances
Houston’s starting pitching has been pretty good in August, but during their winning streak it has been top-notch. In these six games, the rotation has pitched 38 innings, and sports a 1.18 ERA in that span. This sounds crazy, but they have only given up one home run in those 38 innings. In this homer-laden era, that stat is unreal. They haven’t had to deal with many baserunners, as they’ve pitched to a 0.87 WHIP. Batters haven’t strung many hits together against them, as their opponents batting average is .154. In just about every statistic, the Astros starting pitching has been dominant. Perhaps the only group of pitching in the league who has been as dominant, is the Astros own bullpen.
Relief Pitching Performances
Houston’s bullpen was a major issue for the majority of the season, but during the Astros win streak, they look like a different group. During this streak, the bullpen has pitched 18 innings and given up just one earned run, good for a 0.50 ERA. They also have given up only one home run. Even though it is in 20 less innings than the starters, it is still an impressive feat. Once again there aren’t too many baserunners that reach on them, as they have a 0.78 WHIP. Batters have even fewer successes against them; they are hitting .119 during the streak. The relief pitching for the Astros was a big problem during the rough stretch before this winning streak started. If the bullpen keeps pitching at this level, Houston may not need to trade for any relievers.
Offense Must Step Up
Outside of an 11-run offensive explosion against the Seattle Mariners, the offense has still been unimpressive. During the six game win streak, Houston is outscoring opponents 25-7. The lineup is averaging about four runs per game in that span, which is good but not great. Outside of the first two games of the streak, where the Astros scored 16 runs, the offense has been sluggish. The run totals in the last four games of the streak have been much less impressive: two, three, two, and two. It is a testament to the pitching performances that the Astros have continued this streak. There have been signs of life, as Alex Bregman is hitting .306 in the month of August, and Yuli Gurriel is hitting .323 in the month. It would be extremely hard to continue winning games scoring just two runs, so the rest of the offense must step up.
There is good news on the injury front, as Michael Brantley is supposed to be activated from the Injured List this weekend. Of course, as has been the case this year, every bit of good news has come with some bad news. After just two games, DH Yordan Alvarez was put back on the IL due to a knee issue. According to manager Dusty Baker, his season may have come to an end.
Embed from Getty Images