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Arias and Bull Pen Couldn't Catch a Slippery Fish and Astros Play Off Chances Drown: Is Hope Lost?

I was in an LSAT Prep Course for tonight's game, which probably was for the best, because had I watched the game slip away I'd probably be too depressed to put words to it. The Astros remained stuck at 80 wins for the 5th game in a row. Hurricane Ike, the odd Home Game in an Away Park, and/or statistical corrections have felled the Astros in the last five games. The result is a seemingly impossible battle to claim the NL Wild Card at this point. Though not mathematically eliminated at this point, the Odds are certainly stacked against our hometown heros.

From Sports Club Stats, I posted the possible records for the Astros for the rest of the season, and their corresponding odds of making the play offs. Here's that table again:


We can cross 11-0 off the list, leaving us with the possibilities of 10-1 through 0-11 left. At a minimum, we have to finish 7-4 and hold out for dismal finishes by both the Mets and the Brewers. The only two finishes that yield believable odds are 10-1 and 9-2. We've watched that Astros play that kind of ridiculous baseball in the last month, so the possibility exists -- hope is not lost, but it's also getting harder to hold onto by the game.

Tomorrow's game features the following match-up:

Next Game

Houston Astros
@ Pittsburgh Pirates

Friday, Sep 19, 2008, 6:05 PM CDT
PNC Park

Randy Wolf vs Ian Snell

Mostly clear. Winds blowing in from center field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game Time temperature: Around 70.

Complete Coverage >

In thinking about whether or not we can win these games moving forward, I figured that most of it would hinge on our offensive production -- since we're light on the pitching right now. Then I paused for a little bit and I wanted to come up with a rough estimation of how we'd perform in that respect and I realized that I actually had two tools at my disposal. The first (and the most integral) is the Hardball Times In-Season Marcel Tool. The tool works by applying the statistics of the players previous two seasons worth of data, plus his performance this year, and then taking a weighted average of the numbers (placing more emphasis on the most recent production) and coming up with how they'll perform for the rest of the season. Click the previous Hardball Times link to see the numbers.

Given that I knew how everyone is supposed to perform, relatively, for the rest of the season, I used Baseball Musings' Line-Up analysis tool to figure out how many runs our optimal line-up will score, on average, for the next 10 games. It turns out that it's 4.271 (if you click the link, have patience, it takes forever to load). This is not to say that the Astros will always score close to 4 runs, but that we can expect to score 42 or 43 runs for the rest of the season.

To be honest, I think we can do better than that number, because we're going to face some pretty poor pitching from here on out, but the tool can't account for that -- it can only apply league averages. So I think our offense can provide more than adequate run support. The big question mark will be how our pitching holds up. My gut and the analytical side of my brian say, "No," but my heart wants to believe, "Yes."

Hope is not lost, completely, after tonight's fifth successive dismal failure, but it's difficult to hold onto. I've given you some numbers to look at and laid out some analysis to support for and against October baseball. My great curiosity is this: