This second installment of “Into the 80s with Tom Greene” took a few days longer than I, or even the Astros, had anticipated. But, nonetheless, the Astros become the third team this season to join the 80-win club. This comes at no surprise to baseball fans, as the Astros have seemingly controlled the AL West since 2015. However, their vision looks farther than winning the West. They want another World Series title, and they want it now. Let’s break the Astros’ team.
Also, if you missed the first installment of, “Into the 80s with Tom Greene”, you can view that here.
And, because this is a play on 80s radio shows, we can also call it, “Backtrax MLB!” (Thank you, Kid Kelly)
The Houston Astros
They took five more games than the Yankees and Dodgers did to get to 80 wins, but don’t let that fool you. The Astros are just as much of a machine as the Yankees and Dodgers.
Like the first article, we’ll start with…
The overwhelming story of the last two weeks is the emergence of Yordan Alvarez. In 53 games (wait, he’s played that many? Doesn’t feel like it!) he has 66 Hits in 197 ABs, batting .335. This would tie him with Michael Brantley for 2nd place in the AL Batting race, but alas, Alvarez needs more ABs to qualify, according to a stat on baseballreference.com. In the batting title race or not, Alvarez is a rookie, at 22 years old (Two years younger than me. Welp, guess I did something wrong!), and is putting the entirety of Major League Baseball on notice what he can do. It’s very exciting to watch.
Other bats that have flourished this season are Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve and George Springer. Of course, the emergence of Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa have not gone unnoticed either. Similar to having Clayton Kershaw as an afterthought in Chavez Ravine, if Bregman’s bat is being overlooked in this lineup, you know that Astros have done something right. A lot of things right.
Another thing that may be overlooked is the health of this squad. The entire starting nine, as of writing this article, is healthy, including a bench with only four players on IL. In any sport, in any season, a point of emphasis is a team’s health. A lot of times, the healthiest, not the best, team wins. The Astros are right in front in this department.
Also, in any sport, in any season, offense wins games. Defense wins championships. Let’s now go to part two of this breakdown.
It is dominant. It is intimidating to the West. And it is a forced to be reckoned with that got much stronger on July 31st. Right at 4PM Eastern, the Astros picked up two key pieces in the rotation down the stretch. Aaron Sanchez, who helped pitch a combined no-hitter in his first start, and Zack Greinke, who has proven to be a force in his career.
These two, along with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley have put the starters’ ERA at exactly 3.00. This presents a great challenge to the opposition. In a six-inning start, you’re given two runs. No more, and many times less.
As for the Pen, their ERA is 3.13. For the opposition, not much more help is found there. Chris Devenski has pitched the most innings on this staff, as he had to spot-start for Grienke last week on the South Side. He’s been the main long reliever, as Ryan Pressly, Will Harris and Roberto Osuna have nailed things down in the back of the Pen.
As for their health, it hasn’t been a problem. They have a full starting rotation with backups, and a pen with backups, without injury. And, even if the injury bug hits, the Astros have relied on Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh and Jose Urquidy for starts in the past. They’re locked. They’re loaded. They’re ready for October… for now.
We now have three teams in the 80-win club, the Yankees, Dodgers, and Astros. The three most dominating teams are seeing the results of that. Now come the good teams just behind them. It will be fascinating to see the races play out and see which teams reach 80 before it’s too late.
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