This season has been a season of major highs and lows. The Astros are no different. Lets dive in.
(Stats as of Friday, September 11)
Out Of Space Orbiters:
Marwin Gonzalez (.281, 10 HR, 32 RBI): Gonzalez has really found his swing these last 2 months, batting .364 in July, .286 in August and .381 in the early days of September. Gonzalez has also brought his average from a season low of .212 to .281. In a shorter time frame, Gonzalez qualifies as 'en fuego.' In his last 8 games, he's 14-33 (.424) with 3 walks (.472 OBP). Gonzalez, who Astros fans used to love to tear into, has really stepped up. If he can maintain this success, the Astros might have found their 1st basemen.
Jonathan Villar (.271, 2 HR, 9 RBI): Villar, or any SS, might never see regular playing time at short for the Houston Astros for along time but Villar is making Astros fans remember his name. Since being called up and playing on September 4th, Villar is batting .667. Now, yes, he only has 3 at-bats but he is making his impact felt. He's scored run in three of his four appearances and stole a base in the other. He has also shown some power hitting a HR in his short time up. Villar probably isn't an everyday player but certainly has a spot up in the big leagues in September. He can pinch hit, play the field and for the Astros, add speed. All the things the Astros need right now.
Carlos Gomez (.255, 11 HR, 54 RBI): Before about 2 weeks ago, fans were happy about one aspect of the Carlos Gomez deal; and it wasn't him. Gomez, who played his first game as an Astro on August 1st, hit .192 in his first 24 days as an Astro. Since? Gomez has stepped it up - in a big way. On August 24th, Gomez went 0-3 lowering his batting average to a season low .244, he has since seen that # rise .011 points (Which is a lot for a player who has 424 at-bats this year). Gomez is batting .327 since that day with an OBP of .362. This month is a song sung to the same tune. He's 10-29 (.345) with 2 walks, 2 HBP (.412 OBP), HR, 5 doubles and 6 runs scored. Gomez might have took time to come around in Houston but he could be turning the corner at just the right time.
Jose Altuve (.311, 11 HR, 57 RBI): While Altuve has struggled this month going 8-35 (.229) and only .194 in his last 7 games, with no walks, Altuve of last year found himself in August. From August 22nd to September 1st, Altuve was hitting .500 (20-40) with an OBP of .535 (!!). Altuve's recent streak has been a long time coming for Astros fans who saw him hitting a modest .285 in late June, .293 in middle July and .294 in early August. In a matter of 17 games, Altuve brought his average up .021 points ... in late August ...as an everyday player. So, while it could've been easy to put him as a cold hitter, the Astros probably still wouldn't have the division lead if not for Altuve's August antics.
Jake Marisnick (.239, 9 HR, 32 RBI): Jake Marisnick. Oh, Jake. The 24 year old OF started this year looking like he could be a huge steal. While, by no means is he a bust, he has fallen back down to earth. In Marisnick's first 68 at-bats he was credited with 26 hits putting his average at .382 and adding on 5 walks to put his OBP at .425. Marisnick's next two, three months were hum, nothing to remember but Marisnick is trying replay some of those times recently. Marisnick has 9 at-bats this month collecting 5 hits, 5 runs, 3 HR's and 7 RBI. In fact, Marisnick's OBP (.500) is lower than his batting average (.556). While this month is a small scale, Marisnick's numbers have shown improvement. Over his last 30 games, he's batting .254 with an OBP of .274. If you can put your backup OF in the game every few days and know you're gonna get good defensive play along with a possible hit or two. Man, does a manager love that.
Collin McHugh (16-7, 3.89 ERA, 1.27 WHIP): McHugh has been huge for the Astros this summer. In his last 15 starts he has an ERA of 2.92 and the Astros have left winners in 11 of the decisions. McHugh, who has has worked his ERA down from 5.08, has won his last 3 decisions. I'lll leave this one with a stat to think about: He allowed 7 ER in his 5 August starts. Now that deserves a fire emoji, huh?
Dallas Keuchel (17-6, 2.29 ERA, .099 WHIP): 2015 Cy Young Winner Dallas Keuchel... Wait, sorry, jumped the gun. OK, Dallas Keuchel almost got left off this list because you can't really be hot when you're normal ERA is 2.29 but Keuchel made it work. Even though, in Keuchel's 15 games, his ERA is 2.63 -- struggling, yikes. Ok, i'm done. Keuchel has been Mr. Everything this year and has definitely done that in his last 7 starts, going 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA, a K/BB ration of 5.3 and only 12 ER scoring. If the Astros hold onto a playoff spot, he will undoubtedly be the Astros number one.
George Springer (.256, 13 HR, 29 RBI): The man at the top who's supposed to get it all going hasn't since his return. In his 5 games back, he's 3-21 (.238) and although he did score 2 runs yesterday (reached on HBP and an Error), he would be the first one to tell you, that he isn't pleased with his performance so far. But I think Astros fans agree, a good time to return would be in the next 7 games for the Astros.
Carlos Correa (.273, 17 HR 51 RBI): When putting a 20 year old as your everyday SS you expect ups and downs but Correa has been slumping for quite awhile now. In a little over a months time, Correa has seen his average drop .026 points in his first long slump of his career. He's batting .240 in that time and only .220 since late August. The Astros are gonna need more from their 3 spot, but, hey, maybe Correa's 21st birthday will give him a little spark next tuesday.
Preston Tucker (.253, 12 HR, 32 RBI): Tucker, who's playing time has plummeted in the dog days of the season can say the same about his average. His average, which was hovering around .270, has fallen roughly .017 points in the last month, plus. In his last 55 plate appearances (Since August 1st) he's only hitting .181. Tucker probably will be eased into action is he receives much in this late season run but Tucker isn't helping himself, or his club, with his ice cold bat at a time where a left handed, power bat could be effectively used.
Chris Carter (.181, 18 HR, 52 RBI): Carter has seen his starting 1st basemen role taken by an abundance of players. Valbuena, Gonzalez even Jon Singleton at one point. Carter isn't more of on a slump as more as doing very badly this year. Carter who started the season off as an everyday player never saw his average rise above .200 until June. If Astros fans see to much of Carter their gonna go crazy and as an Astro fan myself, lets hope we never have to go crazy.
Scott Kazmir (7-10, 2.63 ERA, 1.14 WHIP): Kazmir, whose first two starts as an Astro, went a combined 14 2/3 for 0 runs, has not been him of late. Since then, in eight starts he has seen his ERA rise from 2.08 to 2.63 and has a WHIP of 1.55. Hitters are also hitting .294 off of Kazmir since August. The Astros once though he would be apart of the postseason rotation - if they got there - and he might be, but he's sliding, and he needs to stop -- quick.
Lance McCullers (5-5, 3.07 ERA, 1.18 WHIP): When using a lot of young talent as the core of your team, you expect these flashes. You expect flashes where their talent shines through and flashes where they need more experience. Right now, McCullers is in the latter of those. McCullers isn't going through a long slum but of very recent he has hit a speed bump. He's 1-3 (Astros are 3-4) in his last 7 with an ERA of 4.46. Although his last 3 starts have gone a combined 20 innings and only allowed a collective 6 ER, the starts before are what hurt him. I've always stuck to my opinion that he should be in the playoff rotation if the Astros have to make one. But I guess we will let the month play out. It will tell a lot.