There are two ways we can judge the Houston Astros season. They were the darling of the 2015 and everyone loves an underdog, right?
When the Texas Rangers swept a four-game series in Arlington against the Astros to take over the division lead (one that they would never relinquish) you kind of felt for the young Astros. You thought “but they are the underdogs! They were on top ALL season just to see it slip away!”
Whether you want to admit it or not, you did not want the Los Angeles Angels to take over that second Wild Card spot on the final day of the regular season.
You wanted the Astros to have that spot, because we all love the “story”.
We would love to see this team become the 2010 San Francisco Giants or the 2014 Kansas City Royals.
The other way to look at it would be to say that this might be their only chance so they better seize the opportunity.
Let’s face it, they didn’t get to the postseason the typical or “normal” way.
Only one of their everyday position players (Jose Altuve) had a .300 batting average or better. They are a feast or famine team.
They will hit a ton of home runs (they ranked second in the AL with 230) but also strike out a ton (led the AL with 1,392 K’s).
Some would say they better take advantage of this position that they are in because as we know, getting to the postseason in the MLB is so easy task.
Even if this is their only postseason appearance for the next 10,000 years, they have just as good a chance as any team to go all the way.
There were only two 20-game winners in the majors this season.
The Astros had the luxury of having one of them, in Dallas Kuechel, and also a 19-game winner, in Colin McHugh, who hasn’t taken a loss since August 20th.
Think about it. Most playoff games, well the BEST playoff games are pitching duels, where one big home run can change the dynamic of the entire game/series. The Astros have five guys who hit at least 20 HR’s this season (Colby Rasmus, Carlos Correa, Luis Valbuena, Evan Gattis and Chris Carter) and George Springer would have most likely been on that list had he not missed 60+ games due to injury.
A legit one-two punch in the starting rotation? Check.
Able to hit the ball out of the park? Check.
Ability to steal bases as a team? Check.
Lockdown closer? Check.
“Rookie of the year” candidate and emerging young stars? Check.
They have all of the ingredients. Can they put it all together? Well, the Royals did last year and they swept their way all the way to the World Series so I don’t see why not.
Tonight they have a tough matchup vs New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka, but this is the whole appeal of the “Wild Card game”. If you don’t want to be in a “do or die” situation, you have to win your division.
They don’t have a slouch on the mound though. I’m positive that the Yankees are not exactly jumping for joy knowing that they have to face a potential Cy Young winner in Keuchel.
No matter the result of tonight, this is not bad for a franchise that lost at least 100 games for three consecutive years from 2011-13′ and hasn’t even sniffed the playoffs since 05′.
– Khristian Peel