Currently riding an eight-game winning streak, the Astros have finally rediscovered their groove following a relatively mediocre start to the season. Once trailing the Rangers by as much as 4 1⁄2 games on May 8, Houston now finds themselves only a game back of the division lead entering Tuesday. While Texas has noticeably improved in 2023, the Astros are now starting to click up-and-down the roster. While it remains far too early to count out the Mariners, the AL West race might ultimately become a two-horse race in the Lone Star State.
It is no secret that the Astros have occasionally struggled to score runs, especially when Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker don’t produce at the plate. To be clear, there are still issues when they don’t perform as that 88 wRC+ through May 13 indicates. However, other members of the lineup — not named José Abreu — have largely stepped up during this win streak, as evidenced by the club’s league-leading 146 wRC+ starting May 14 through Monday’s offensive explosion against the Brewers. While it is a small sample, the recent production is a positive trend.
A notable fact about Monday’s bout with the Brewers: It was the first time this season that the Astros scored double-digit runs in a game. It just took 47 games to reach that point. For context, they scored reached double digits in only their second game of the 2022 season and in their 20th game back in 2021.
22% Strikeout Minus Walk Rate
While the offense enjoyed the breakout on Monday against Corbin Burnes and company in Milwaukee, the fact of the matter is that the Astros’ success is largely due to how well the pitching staff has performed in 2023. During this recent stretch, this pitching staff has seemed to find itself improving, as evidenced by its league-leading 22% strikeout-minus-walk rate. Usually good things happen when strikeouts go up while walk rates remain low. Houston’s pitching staff can attest to that.
To start the season, it was becoming a concern that Jake Meyers might’ve played himself of the active roster considering how his rough start to the season (.160/.276/.160, 34 wRC+) in his first 29 plate appearances. But Chas McCormick’s injury opened the door for Meyers to assume more playing time and he hasn’t looked back since. But this recent win streak saw Meyers reach base safely in nine consecutive plate appearances and his offensive numbers are flashing signs of 2021, as evidenced by his team-leading .561 wOBA since May 14.
+25 Run Differential
Needless to say that good things are bound to happen for a baseball team when the run differential is increasingly in the positive. Of course, Monday’s 12-2 win over the Brewers helped drive this run differential up, but it still counts. This team is now starting to click and hopefully this current win streak is a sign of more good things to come, especially when certain pitchers are nearing their return.
I got burned a few weeks ago when I mentioned that Alex Bregman broke his season-opening slump. And, to be fair, he did for a time. Unfortunately, he slide right back into another slump with a 32 wRC+ from April 25 through May 12. Since then, however, Bregman has regained his footing at the plate and has looked more like the hitter we all know he is. While I am not calling his slump over this time, I am optimistic that his performance will become a bit more consistent.
Pick Your Own Stat
Honestly, there are plenty of stats to salivate about when analyzing Yordan Alvarez. Heck, there is a little bit for everyone during this win streak if you like advanced statistics (244 wRC+) or the old-school variety (11 RBI). While I can’t stress the contributions of the pitching staff enough, Alvarez’s performance is arguably the most important player on the roster.