The biggest question of this season, and there is usually one of these type of teams, was “are they for real?” Remember back in 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays had their hot start and everyone was just waiting for them to falter.
It never happened. They rode that wave all the way to the World Series, and they have been contenders every year since.
This year, that Cinderella-type of team is the Houston Astros. They did it the correct way a few years ago. Tear the team down, and rebuild it from scratch. Now, look at them.
The same franchise that lost at least 100 games three years in a row (2011-13′) are in first place in the AL West in late August. This is pretty amazing stuff.
The Astros are coming off of a successful 7-3 home stand, including a three-game sweep against a very good Los Angeles Dodgers team, where Mike Fiers threw his first career no-hitter, Scott Kazmir outdueled ace Zack Greinke, and they were able to erase a 2-1 deficit against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who had only blew one save prior to Sunday.
The only problem with the team is their road record, and the fact that right before that ten-game home stand, there was a nine-game road trip where they only won two of those games.
Considering the fact that they have a huge series starting tonight with the New York Yankees — on the road by the way — they might need to start playing a little better than their current 24-35 record indicates.
Overall, they have only 15 games left at home and 22 left away from Houston.
They have a recipe for success when it comes to pitching, with as good a one-two punch — Dallas Keuchel (who has three complete games) and Colin McHugh (1.67 ERA during the month of August) — as there is in the league.
The two guys that they received in trades (Fiers and Kazmir) have held their own and rookie Lance McCullers is a great option to turn to, even though he may need another start skipped again before the season is through.
We know how their offense operates.
Hit alot of Home Runs. Their 169 rank first in the AL. They will also strike out alot, as they lead the AL in K’s as well.
Jose Altuve is the only player on the team with a batting average above .300 but they rank fourth in the league in walks (369) and first in stolen bases (95) so they can get on base and also put themselves in position to score.
They have guys like Luis Valbuena (.209 avg 22 HR’s), Chris Carter (.183 avg 17 HR’s) and Evan Gattis (.236 19 HR’s) who may not have the highest average, but they can hit it out of the park at any time, in any park.
Carter actually only has 61 hits on the season, but 30 of them (17 homers, 13 doubles) have gone for extra bases.
Their shortstop Carlos Correa was the #2 prospect coming into the season (behind Byron Buxton) but he seems to have the highest upside of any rookie in the league.
Recipe for success.
Also, they are naive. They are young enough to not realize that they are not supposed to be here. Guess they did not get that memo.
Anyway, they are here. They have been pretty consistent also. Every month during 2015, they have had at least a .500 record.
This series versus the Yankees will be huge, and the Astros will have their aces on the mound on Tuesday and Wednesday. After that series, they head to the twin cities for a three-game set with the Minnesota Twins, who were once upon a time one of those Cinderella stories.
The Twins were not able to keep up with the Astros, but they are still fighting for a playoff spot.
The Astros, on the other hand, have a nice four-game lead and in a great position to make the postseason for the first time as an AL club.
– Khristian Peel