Astros Clinch Sixth Straight Postseason Berth

Astros Clinch

The Houston Astros beat the Oakland Athletics on Friday and clinched their sixth straight postseason berth. With a postseason spot officially secured, the ultimate goal of a World Series championship only becomes more in focus. If the Astros keep playing like this, they are arguably the favorites to come out of the AL. Houston is playing their best baseball as the season wanes. Several key position players are surging at the right time, and with Justin Verlander’s return Friday, they have a full complement of depth.

Yordan Alvarez Is Back

While the Astros have maintained a sizable lead in the AL race for the one seed, there were a few question marks regarding the team. Houston’s biggest question in August was the cold streak of Yordan Alvarez. The 25-year-old slugger was an MVP candidate through the season’s first four months, but last month was a major struggle. Alvarez hit .234 in 23 August games. However, the one home run he hit the whole month scared Astros fans the most.

But, there is good news for Astros fans. It appears that Alvarez has put those struggles in the rearview mirror. In 11 games this month, Alvarez is hitting .390 with five homers, three coming in Friday’s victory over the A’s. Houston will need him at his best if they want to win another World Series title.

Kyle Tucker Is Surging

Kyle Tucker is another vital position player to the Astros. Tucker went through a big slump in July, hitting .212.  Since August, Tucker has been hitting over .300 with eight homers and 32 RBI. Entering Saturday, Tucker is three RBI away from 100, three home runs away from 30, and three steals away from 25 stolen bases. Tucker is a versatile ball player essential to the Astros’ upcoming postseason run.

The Return of Verlander

One of the hallmarks of the 2022 Astros is their starting pitching depth. Houston didn’t skip a beat when Verlander was out with an injury. Top prospect Hunter Brown was called up and was completely unfazed by the bright lights. The rookie made two starts, giving up two runs across 12 innings. With Brown’s early major league success, the Astros have another great starting pitching option. With Verlander back in the fold, Houston has their full rotation back.

Verlander looked like his vintage self against the A’s, firing five no-hit innings and striking out nine batters. The future Hall of Famer’s scoreless performance lowered his season ERA to 1.78. Even though the Astros made it to the World Series last year without Verlander, having one of the best pitchers of his generation on the mound would certainly boost the Astros title chances.

McCullers Is a Wild Card

The Astros have benefited from Lance McCullers Jr. since his season debut in August. The veteran missed the first four months of the season but has made a huge impact on his six starts this season. McCullers has not given up more than three earned runs in any start this year. It was an unknown whether or not he would be effective after not pitching for almost a year. However, he has answered the questions.

Entering Saturday, the Astros have won six games in a row. They are coming together to play their best baseball of the season, which is perfect timing with the postseason looming. Clinching a postseason spot is just the beginning of what the Astros plan to do as the season comes to the end.

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Players mentioned:

Justin Verlander, Kyle Tucker, Hunter Brown, Lance McCullers Jr.