Time flies by when you’re having fun, and that’s the case as we have officially finished the first month of the 2022 MLB season. We’ve had many surprises, great plays, and memories made so far. With the second month underway, here’s a look back at the month of April for the Houston Astros.
What we’ve learned so far
Jeremy Peña has been exactly what the Astros needed so far this season. As one might recall the Astros failed to resign platinum glove shortstop Carlos Correa during the offseason. Peña is off to a fast start, as he’s batting .215 with 17 hits and five home runs (four during April).
Aside from Peña, the offense got off to a slow start, with star players such as Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, and Yuli Gurriel hitting well below .250. For the first few games, the only bright spots in the Astros lineup were Alex Bregman and Yordan Álvarez.
The offense as of late has been better, with players like Kyle Tucker (who’s currently hitting above .250) starting to heat up. Alex Bregman has made improvements from his injury-plagued ’21 season, and Yordan Álvarez continues to destroy baseballs left and right. The Astros’ hitters have a combined batting average of .288 which ranks 11th in the American League.
The starting pitching has improved from last year, even with righty Lance McCullers Jr on the injured list from the shoulder injury he sustained last fall. Future Hall-of-Famer Justin Verlander has come back stronger than ever, and as if he never left his 2019 Cy Young form, with an ERA of 1.73 and Whip of 0.69.
Righty Jake Odorizzi struggled to start the season, looking the same as last year, but in his past two starts, he’s allowed just one run over the 12 2/3 innings he’s pitched, which is the best he’s looked since signing with the team last season. Righty’s Luis Garcia and José Urquidy have quietly held their own in the backend of the rotation. Garcia has an ERA of 4.15, while Urquidy sits at 5.95.
Lefty Framber Valdez has done well at the top of the rotation, with an ERA of 3.42. Last but not least, the Astros added a sixth man to their starting rotation to prepare for the long stretch of games coming up, and that’s where Cristian Javier comes in. Javier is one of the more versatile players Houston has, as he spends his time between the starting rotation and the bullpen. Javier’s ERA is 1.35, which is really good for a player entering his second season.
The bullpen has performed better than it did this time last season, with newcomer Héctor Neris leading the way with his 0.75 ERA during the 13 games he’s pitched in. Rafael Montero has pitched well, mostly used as a setup guy, Montero has a 0.87 ERA in his 10 games pitched. The Astros pitching staff as a whole so far this season has a combined ERA of 3.43, which ranks sixth in the league.
What Needs to Improve?
Consistency. The Astros had some games in which the offense is white-hot, including their 11-7 victory against the Toronto Blue Jays to which the offense struggled the following night. The Astros currently sit at 12-11, which is only 2.5 games behind the Los Angeles Angels for the division lead, which isn’t too bad at this point in the season. However, if the Astros want to win their fifth division title in six years, the offense will need to stay consistent.
The pitching will remain consistent throughout the year and will improve once Lance McCullers Jr comes back around June. When McCullers comes back, Javier is most likely being put back into the bullpen, which would add to the rather impressive pen the Astros have.
This team has the potential to win the AL West this season, it’s only a matter of how well the offense will carry them, and Yordan can only do so much.
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