We’re only a couple of weeks away from finishing the regular season, but there’s still a lot of baseball to watch. The Astros are trying to secure the AL West, and there are some individual feats we could be witnessing when it’s all said and done in the regular campaign.
We’ve come with three of them. Let’s dive right in…
1. Yuli? Brantley? Who wins the batting title?
The battle for the batting title is on fire and pretty close. Even though Athletics’ Starling Marté is leading the American League with a .322 average (through Tuesday), two Astros’ players are on the hunt for the crown. Michael Brantley is tied with Yuli Gurriel, both with a .315 clip and below Vladimir Guerrero’s .317.
Considering the Astros will face plenty of teams with below-average pitching during the rest of the season, it won’t be impossible for them to stay in the race.
If Brantley —currently on the 10-day injured list— wins it, it’d be a fair award for a world-class, pure hitter who has posted a .310 average over his last four campaigns (453 seasons). If Gurriel ends up as the hitting champ, it’d be the tale of the tape for a short but brilliant career in the Majors. Stay tuned!
2. Can Luis García win the ROY award?
Luis García might’ve not been brilliant in his first two starts of September, but he’s had a helluva season and is among the strongest candidates for the 2021 American League Rookie of the Year award. After 139 innings, García owns a 10-7 record with a 3.45 ERA, a 3.45 FIP, and a 1.14 WHIP.
However, there is tough competition for García. To name a few, Rangers’ Adolis García, Rays’ Randy Arozarena, Orioles’ Ryan Mountcastle, and Blue Jays’ Alek Manoah could be Luis’ main rivals.
If he wins the 2021 ROY, García will become the fourth Astro, along with Yordan Álvarez, Carlos Correa, and Jeff Bagwell, and the first-ever as a pitcher. At this point, the Astros may opt for giving García some rest, so his final starts of the season might come against Arizona and Oakland (twice).
3. A reliable option
Ryne Stanek has been one of the most durable relievers for the Astros this year. Through Wednesday, he appeared in 66 games, the fourth-highest mark in the Majors in 2021. The right-hander has been a force in his latest ten times on the mound, allowing only four hits (three singles) and one earned run over 9 2/3 innings with 11 strikeouts.
But back to his number of appearances for a second. If he gets to 70 —and he should—, he will be just the sixth Astros’ reliever to pitch in at least 70 games in a season since 2010. The other ones to do it: Brandon Lyon (2010), Mark Melancon (2011), Wilton López (2011), Fernando Rodríguez Jr. (2012), and Wesley Wright (2012).