Bill Gilbert: Astros Struggle in July

SABR Analyst and Pecan Park Eagle Contributor Bill Gilbert takes a solid look at the dipsy-doodle road the Astros’ fond hopes took in July 2018.

 

Astros Struggle in July

By Bill Gilbert

It was bound to happen sooner or later. The Houston Astros have fallen on hard times. With Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Brian McCann all on the disabled list, this is not the same team that won the World Series in 2017. The starting pitching was outstanding for the first three months of this season but was below league average in July. The defense, strong in the first half, showed some cracks in July with uncharacteristic physical and mental errors. The offense has gone quiet, especially with runners in scoring position.

The three-game sweep by the Texas Rangers over the Astros in Houston in late July brought back memories of the 2011-2013 Astros as the home team fans hadn’t seen such bad baseball in more recent years. It was the first sweep of a series against Houston all year and left them with a four-game losing streak. The streak was extended to five games the following night by Seattle 2-0, before the Astros won the final game of the of month from the Mariners, 5-2, leaving them with a record of 13-11 for the month and 68-41 for the season. They actually increased their lead in the AL West Division from 1.5 games at the end of June to 4 games at the end of July.

The keys to the Astros remaining on top are 1.) The return of Correa and Altuve, which should happen in early August and 2.) A return to something close to the dominant pitching the team experienced in the first half of the season. The seventeen strikeouts recorded by Astro pitchers in the final game against the Rangers suggests that the dominance could still be there.

There were not many superlatives in the team’s July performance. The team batting average of .237 lowered the season’s average to .257. The team ERA of 3.95 raised the season average to 3.08 still the best in MLB. The only .300 hitter in July was Alex Bregman at an even 300 and he also led the team with 6 home runs and 18 RBIs. Evan Gattis also had 6 home runs. Altuve, who missed only the last 4 games hit .270 for the month. Correa and McCann both missed the entire month. Top prospect, Kyle Tucker, was promoted to the Astros but failed to hit and was sent back down.

The five original starting pitchers have still not missed a start. Performance tailed off in July except for Dallas Keuchel, who was 4-1 with an ERA of 1.65. Hector Rendon took over as closer with 5 saves replacing Ken Giles, who was sent to the minors before being traded with two prospects to Toronto for Roberto Osuna who is expected to be the closer.

The month of August will be critical for the Astros. Seventeen of their twenty-four games are against the three West Coast teams in the AL West Division. Seattle and Oakland will have their opportunities to close the gap. The Astros need to continue their winning ways to prevail.

 

Bill Gilbert

8/2/2018

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

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