Dear Fellow Astros Fans,
Did you, like me, spend much of the wild card win against the Yankees in an excitable state, with every nerve in your body racked, wracked, and wrecked? Or did you fully enjoy yourself throughout? Or, much more likely, somewhere in between? Are you expecting more of the same tonight? Are you satisfied with the season and half expecting/not caring too much about this series? Or do you expect a great series and a possible win? Or just enjoying the ride? If you're anything like me, you're looking forward to the series but not the heartburn that will inevitably accompany it. And you are very uncertain as to what we're going to get from these 2015 Astros in this series. How good is this team? Does anybody know? Stay with me, Astros fans, for a convoluted but well intentioned guide on how to get through this series without dissolving in a puddle of angsty sweat. Who are these Astros and who are you? Because this series is going to be a great big Rorschach test on these Astros and on yourselves: how tough are you and how tough is this team?
I think many of us are out of practice. After all, it has been ten years since the Astros last playoff appearance. We have forgotten what it's like to be on pins and needles. As such, as good as the game was against the Yankees, and as fulfilling as it was to get the win, the process, if you will, of watching the game for many of us was brutal to our nerves. As your self-appointed and totally untrained clinical psychologist, I'd like to take a shot at helping you survive the next week or so without winding up in the ER, ulcerated on the insides from top to bottom. I don't know about the rest of you but that one-and-done-in-a-good-way wild card game against the loathsome Yankees in their new and not-so-improved stadium just about ended me. By the end of the contest, I had gone through two bottles of mint-flavored Pepto and my tweets and game thread comments, not always perfectly grammatically clear, needed a decoder ring to comprehend. I had at some point, as I learned the next morning, googled ‘how do I make this stop with voodoo'. And I was totally sober! I can't imagine what I might have been like with my usual five or ten bottles of local craft Zima in me.
And as your self-appointed and even more untrained physician, I recommend you take a moment to think about your various self-diagnosed illnesses and allergies, and meditate on just how much worse you're making these totally contrived conditions by putting yourselves through the torture of watching, for example, Qualls warm up in the pen. Come on — you know you've self-diagnosed yourself with multiple conditions. Everybody does it. It's all the rage. I myself have figured out over the last couple decades — and totally on my own! — that I have three heretofore unknown conditions: Lactose Iffiness, Clockwork Bowel Syndrome (CBS), and Resting Dolt Face (RDF). While there may be no cure, just being aware of these conditions has caused me to put in place certain preventative habits: replacing milk with various popular-in-Brooklyn milk-like substances, not leaving the house until after 8:30 a.m., and looking in the mirror a lot, respectively.
So are you the kind of fan who thrives on optimism, pessimism, realism, or some other dumb, scientifically indefensible combo? Perhaps people's individual reactions have to do with their personalities and their expectations. Maybe you're a pessimist; maybe you're an optimist. Maybe the former category comes into any game with tempered expectations, while the latter expects the best. If so, some stats and data will be more appealing than others. I would recommend choosing a set of data that best suits your various self-diagnosed intolerances, allergies, temperament and annoyances. Here, in descending order from half empty to half full glasses, are the Ws and Ls from which to choose.
That's the Astros' road record. The Astros were much worse on the road than at home — in fact, the difference between the home and road records was a full 20 games, big enough to lead the league, with the Dodgers 18 games better at home, the Braves 17, and a few teams at 13. Even worse, their 15-7 opening to the season contained a 10-2 road record, meaning that their overall winning record was built around a 23-46 road record. One of the few consistent aspects of this team (along with the Ks and HRs) has been its awfulness on the road. Given that three of the five games will be in Kansas City, this suggests a likely series loss.
That's the Astros' record after their hot 15-7 start. Just a couple tics above .500. This alone would suggest that an Astros series win is less than likely given the Royals are much better than average.
That is, of course, Keuchel's home record this year. Unless something really weird happens, Keuchel should start just one game this series, and it will be at home. Regardless of what they might say publicly, I imagine both managers are developing their series strategies with this one penciled in as a W for Houston. If we allow ourselves to do the same thing (recognizing of course that it's very much not an automatic win), we then only need to take half of the remaining games, though three of those would be on the road.
That's the Astros' record in their last ten games, (the last seven of which have been on the road) during which they outscored their opponents 64-31. This one is clearly for the optimists, as it indicates the Astros are on a roll. Who knows? Maybe they're proverbially peaking at the right time.
Those are the wins and losses for the Astros that come to mind for me. And youse? What do you say? Anything to add or bones to pick? Have at it.