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Astros season review so far...

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Looking at the Astros ups and downs this season

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros
May 31, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) celebrates second baseman Jose Altuve (27) two run home run against the Boston Red Sox in the third inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

We are a little past the halfway point in the 2021 season and I figured it would be a good time to share some thoughts on the 2021 season. Here we go...

OFFENSE

No offense to the other teams (pun intended) but the Astros have the best offense in baseball. Before I get into the numbers, I think the most impressive part is there isn’t one guy you can point to and say that he is carrying the offense. It’s been multiple players at multiple different times. The lineup is so deep and that’s something other teams can’t match.

As of this article, the Astros have a 122 wRC+ as a team! The next closest is Toronto with a 111 wRC+. Remember that guy Manny Machado who got a 10 year, $300 million deal? He has a career 120 wRC+. The Astros team has been better than Machado’s career. Derek Jeter? Career 119 wRC+. I think you get the point. The Astros offense has been phenomenal.

The last time there was that big of a gap (10) between first and second team wRC+ at the end of the season was 2019 when the Astros had a 126 wRC+ and the Yankees had a 116 wRC+. Before that? 2017 when the Astros had a 121 wRC+ and Yankees were at 109 wRC+. And before that was 2009. The Astros offense this season, and in year’s past, has been HISTORIC. Oh, and they have the lowest strikeout percentage (18.6%) by a pretty wide margin.

DEPTH

I mentioned it before but the depth of the lineup is unreal. Carlos Correa has a 157 wRC+, Yordan Alvarez at 149, Michael Brantley at 148, Yuli Gurriel at 145, and Jose Altuve at 141. Then you have Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker at 119 a piece, which is probably under performance from both of them. Kris Bryant in 2016 won the NL MVP and had a 148 wRC+ (yes I know its more than just offense for MVP) but the Astros have five hitters in that range. It’s insane. Correa is going to get a mega contract too, I still have hope the Astros make it happen.

Can’t forget about Myles Straw either. After a rough start to the season, he has played really well over last two months. He has a 124 wRC+ since May 10th and is slashing .310/.385/.393 over that time. He has turned into a legitimate weapon in center field, both offensively and defensively.

But also the contributions from the guys you didn’t expect coming into the year. Chas McCormick has came up and found a way to basically make every hit drive in a run (kidding but he does have 32 hits and 32 RBI). Toro has came up and helped fill the void with Bregman out. Aledmys Diaz was playing the perfect utility role before he got hurt.

STARTING PITCHING

Luis Garcia for AL ROY! That’s it.

Okay, that’s not it but he has been great. 24 year old has a 3.12 ERA with 90 K in 80.1 innings. This is a guy who hadn’t pitched above High-A until last season when he was called up to the Astros. While there might be some other deserving rookies, I am biased and I think Garcia right now is the AL ROY.

But he isn’t the only one pitching well. Lance McCullers signed his extension this off-season and is pitching like the ace the Astros signed him to be. 2.97 ERA with 81 K in 72.2 innings. Lance has allowed more than 3 runs just once this season. Jose Urquidy, who has battled through some injuries, has a 3.38 ERA in 14 starts. Cristian Javier started out in the rotation and was great. He has moved to the pen and been good there too. As a starter he had a 3.14 ERA and since moving to the pen he has a 2.33 ERA.

Zack Greinke has pitched well outside of a couple rough outings and even Odorizzi, who struggled his first two outings this season, has a 2.16 ERA since coming back from the IL (also 29 K in 33.1 innings). The rotation has been really good. The Astros starters’ ERA is 3.32, which is the best ERA in the American League.

BULLPEN

This is the part where things get bad. But first, the good.

Ryan freaking Pressly. He has been absolutely dominant. What a steal he was back in 2018 when the Astros acquired him from Minnesota. In an Astros uniform he has posted a 2.02 ERA with 178 K in 133.2 innings. He’s been even better this season picking up 14 saves with a 1.54 ERA and 5 BB/45 K in 35 IP.

Now the bad. Ryne Stanek has been up and down this season but outside of him, its been mostly bad. Raley has a 5.93 ERA, Smith a 6.23 ERA, Abreu a 4.21 ERA, Scrubb a 5.94 ERA, Bielak a 6.00 ERA, Paredes a 6.23 ERA. All of them have spent some time injured too. I think you get it and if you are still reading to this point, you are probably aware of the struggles. While some of it has been some poor luck (Raley does have a 2.79 FIP), the Astros might need to make a move and bring in another relieved.

SUMMARY

The 2021 Astros are once again, a really good team. We are in such a great period of Astros baseball. We are witnessing another elite team that should have nothing less than a World Series expectation. While there are some things they can improve, this team has been fun to watch. Enjoy it Astros fans!