Baseball

Astros off to a Decent Start

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In the roughly three weeks since opening day, fans have seen some ups and downs for all 30 teams. The Houston Astros currently sit at 6-5 and in third place in the American League West behind the A’s and Angels, so here is a recap of what happened thus far, what Houston can improve on, and a prediction for the next series against the Blue Jays.

2022 Season So Far

The Houston Astros started the season with a 3-1 series win against the Los Angeles Angels, putting up a combined 20 runs during the four games. The offense was great, with the exception of the 2-0 shutout during game three. The Astros then traveled to Phoenix to take on the Diamondbacks in a quick two-game series that resulted in a split.

The series against the DBacks was probably the most disappointing so far this season, mainly because the Astros were very capable of sweeping the lowly DBacks. Yet bullpen struggles cost Houston the second game.

The Astros ended their nine-game road trip in Seattle for a three-game series, losing two games to one. The pitching in game one was atrocious as the staff gave up 11 runs. In game two, Justin Verlander pitched a gem in the 4-0 shutout. In the series finale, the pitching flailed as the Astros gave up seven runs.

The Astros first homestand of 2022 features a three-game series with the Angels (currently split 1-1) and will end with a three-game series with the Blue Jays.

What to Improve

Pitching. The Astros pitching has flailed this season, with the exception of Justin Verlander. Some of the starters, such as Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy, have been inconsistent, giving up a few runs one game, then lots in the next. The other pitcher on the starting staff is Jake Odorizzi, who is struggling yet again for the Astros, giving up six runs thus far. Yes, it is early in the season and there are lots of games left, but if the starters cannot improve, Houston will be sitting out this postseason.

The bullpen has improved from last season, with newcomer Hector Neris pitching exceptionally well. Rafael Montero has been great so far, and Bryan Abreu is pitching at a higher velocity. The bullpen will need to be great for the next few days with All-Star closer Ryan Pressly currently on the 10-day injured list with knee inflammation.

Either the Astros offense has regressed, or batters faced great pitching. Star players such as Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel, and Kyle Tucker are off to a very slow start, with none of these players hitting above .175. The Astros as a whole are batting a combined .212, which isn’t great. Most of the problems can be derived from the shortened spring training which could have caused players to not get 100 percent before the season.

Once again, it’s only 12 games into the season, so there is no reason to panic because there are 162 games and lots of time for anything to happen. However, if the Astros want to make another run in the playoffs, they’ll need to improve the pitching and hitting, because Verlander and Alvarez can’t carry them all year.

Upcoming Series Prediction

The Toronto Blue Jays come to town for a three-game series on Friday which is sure to be a great series considering the Jays are perhaps the best team in the AL so far. The probable starters for the Astros during the series should look like this:

Friday: Justin Verlander

Saturday: Jose Urquidy

Sunday: Luis Garcia

This author does not think the Astros sweep the Blue Jays. However, they can win the series. If Justin Verlander can pitch as he has so far this season, the Astros should take game one. Games two and three can go either way, as both Urquidy and Garcia are good but can give up lots of runs on occasion.

This series will be a good one, as George Springer should be healthy to play in his first game as an opponent for the Astros. Fun fact: the last time Justin Verlander pitched against Toronto, he threw a no-hitter.

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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