Houston Astros: what we’ve learned

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I promised some articles on coaching and management deficiencies, and that’s still coming. There are still issues in the management department, and that has become a little more clear despite the run the Astros have been on. Let’s catch up with the past few months, though.

The Astros have given us a wild ride in the past few months. They’ve gone from almost out of contention and a below .500 finish at the half, to a spectacular June/July run to put them back into contention for both the AL West title and the playoffs. Just when we all breathed a collective sigh, and baseball became fun again in Houston, the wheel started coming off, again. After an impressive 19/8 run (from my last posting) going into the All-Star Break, and a .575 run since mid-June (that’s counting today’s probable loss, sorry), the writing on the wall is becoming perfectly clear: too little; too late.

How can I say this, you may be thinking, when they’re 10-2 9-3 in the last 12 games? Because the Astros will likely be 8-4 in the last 12 games after today, possibly 7-5 after tomorrow, are 2-12 (or 13, depending on when you read this) against the Rangers, could end up being 2-14 by Sunday, have another series with the team that they simply cannot beat, and have WC contenders in 17 or the next 27 games to finish out the season. In that span, the Astros will need to gain 3 games, finish with at least 89 wins, and go .675 for September. This means winning out in every series left, or a few sweeps if they’re going to continue to be fully dominated by the Rangers.

Hey, it can happen. Stranger things have occurred in the month of September in the MLB. In fact, the Astros were in a similar spot this time last year – sitting behind the Rangers and right in the mix for the WC spot. We already knew, about mid-season, that the Astros would need a better record than 86-76 to go to the post season. Currently, they’re sitting at .530, which is where they sat at the end of the 2015 season – just enough to scrape by. This season, .530 will get another 86 wins, but they’ll miss the playoffs by 3 games (with current estimates). Also similar to last year, they’re 2 games into a 13 game stretch that will make or break the season.

Going back to my previous post, I still feel the season was over in May. The good news in that is that I don’t expect them to sink below last season’s record, but I also don’t expect them to be playing more than 2 games in October. For the sake of the game, we can still have the fun of comparing 2016 to 2005 (which seems to have become the thing to do amongst the Astros fandom in the last stretch), because – schedule wise – there have been some particularly similar patterns of winning/losing streaks between the 2 seasons. Or, we can chalk it up to a year with no growth, but no real regression, and hope some of the right moves are made going into 2017. I know which one I’m doing. How about you?

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