Astros 2022 First Half Recap

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Heading into the 2022 MLB All-Star Break, the Houston Astros have once again put themselves into the serious World Series contender conversation. Despite losing two out of three to the Oakland Athletics over the weekend, the Astros enter the break at 59–32. This record puts them four games back in the loss column of the New York Yankees for the best record in the AL. Houston has had quite a few bright spots as well as some disappointments so far this year. With the Astros’ first half coming to an end, here is a recap of the major storylines.

The Good

The Astros have had a lot of things go right in this first half, hence the second-best record in the AL. The aspect of the team that has had the most success is the pitching staff, especially the starting rotation. Justin Verlander has returned from Tommy John surgery, and is looking better than ever. The future Hall of Famer posted a 12–3 record, and a 1.89 ERA in 109 1/3 innings. Framber Valdez earned his first career All-Star appearance, pitching 115 innings with a 2.66 ERA. Valdez has toed the rubber in both of the Astros’ complete games this season. Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia, Cristian Javier, and Jake Odorizzi have all pitched to sub-4.10 ERA’s.

Ryne Stanek has led the bullpen with a 0.57 ERA in over 30 innings this year. Meanwhile, Ryan Pressly has dealt with injuries this year, but he has still saved 19 ballgames. Despite taking the loss on Sunday, Rafael Montero has emerged as a key piece, posting a sub-2.00 ERA over 37 1/3 innings.

On the position player side, Jose Altuve is hitting for power as well as ever. The second-baseman has 34 extra-base hits in 74 games. The biggest pleasant surprise for Houston this year is Jeremy Pena. Pena has fit in wonderfully on this Astros team with 13 home runs in 70 games. The biggest contributor, however, has been Yordan Alvarez. Alvarez has put together a MVP-caliber season thus far. In 75 games, Alvarez has a 1.058 OPS with 26 homers. The 25-year old is currently on the IL, but the team hopes he can return post-All-Star break. Overall, the Astros have five All-Stars: Verlander, Valdez, Altuve, Alvarez, and Kyle Tucker.

The Not-So-Good

Houston has had way more go right this season than wrong, however there are a few things that have not been great for them. The Astros’ offense has been streaky at times this season, but overall it is still a fierce lineup. Most of the lineup is still performing well. However, the biggest under-performer in terms of their career standards has been Yuli Gurriel. The 38 year old won a batting title, and a Gold Glove in 2021, but has struggled to match that production in 2022. Through the first half, Gurriel is batting .238 with a .287 on-base percentage. In his career, Gurriel has shown he is much better than he has been this year, but thus far, he has mostly struggled.

Another aspect of the team that has been not-so-good is the offensive production of the Astros’ catchers. Martin Maldonado is hitting .167 this year, and Jason Castro is hitting .115. While Maldonado is hitting almost .300 with four homers in July, the overall numbers still leave a lot to be desired. While Houston’s catchers struggle at the plate, they handle a pitching staff as well as anyone in the big leagues, so they still find ways to be productive.

Second Half Outlook

The Astros had a great first half of the season, and they hope to carry that into the second half. The key of the second half for Houston is health. Alvarez and Michael Brantley must get healthy, while the rest of the Astros’ lineup needs to stay healthy. Lance McCullers Jr. may be nearing a return to an already deep Houston rotation. The Astros hope to continue their strong season all the way to another World Series championship.

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Players Mentioned:

Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia, Cristian Javier, Jake Odorizzi, Ryne Stanek, Ryan Pressly, Rafael Montero, Jose Altuve, Jeremy Pena, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle TuckerYuli Gurriel, Martin Maldonado, Jason Castro, Lance McCullers Jr., Michael Brantley