Let's discuss the keys to a stellar second half for Astros

Getting Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa back will be huge. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

After an incredible come from behind victory to beat the New York Yankees on Sunday, the Astros now sit at top the American League West standings with a 55-36 record.

As it currently stands, Houston has the 2nd best record in the American League only behind the Chicago White Sox.

With the official first half of the MLB season in the books, the Astros look to continue their winning ways and make a playoff run for the 5th consecutive year.

Here are the keys to Houston's success entering the second half of the 2021 season.

In order for the Astros to continue their winning ways, they need consistent production from their All-Stars. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley and Ryan Pressly all made the All-Star team this season. Although none of them are playing in the Midsummer Classic this year, they will use this opportunity to heal existing injuries and spend time with their families.

Atluve has a .278 batting average and leads the team in home runs with 20 this season. His latest was a three-run, walk-off home run against the aforementioned Yankees.

The other All-Star sluggers Correa and Brantley have and great seasons as well with Correa continuing to showcase he is one of the best shortstops in the game at the plate and on the field. Brantley is continuing to mash at the plate as he leads the team in bating average and is 2nd in the American League (behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) with a .326 average.

One Astros hitter who should have been an All-Star was Yuli Gurriel. He leads the team with 96 hits this season and has a .313 batting average with 54 RBI's. The first basemen is putting up career numbers across the board and has become one of the Astros best hitters this season.

Other Astros hitters who have made tremendous progress are Kyle Tucker and Myles Straw. When George Springer and Josh Reddick left the team after the 2020 season, both Straw and Tucker were given the opportunity to become everyday players for the Astros. Both outfielders got off to slow starts to start the season, but have become tremendous guys Dusty Baker can put in his lineup consistently.

This Astros hitting core leads the league in runs, hits, batting average and OPS. It's safe to say if the Astros continue to hit consistently, this team can defeat any team in the league.

Finally, Houston is expecting to get some of their injured players back here soon. Both Alex Bregman and Aledmys Diaz should be back to bolster this batting lineup and give the Astros some depth. Jose Urquidy should be back soon as well to help out this starting rotation.

After the All-Star break, the Astros will head to Chicago to start a three-game series with the White Sox before coming home for a six-game homestand against the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers.

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11 Texans training camp observations from August 7th

Houston Texans insider dishes on why Derek Stingley Jr was the right pick

The Houston Texans had a “vanilla” day of light work. Here are 11observations from the workout.

1. It was a light day for the Texans. Some would say sluggish, I wouldn’t agree with that. Did it look like a day off was in order? Yes. Did anyone make mental mistakes because of their energy level? Not that I could see. With it being a lighter day, it might be worthwhile to focus on some of the depth on the roster.

2. Isaac Yiadom (pronounced YEAH-dum) has had some moments in training camp. With rookie Derek Stingley having a light day, Yiadom played opposite Steven Nelson. Yiadom has had a few pass breakups and seems to be physical in coverage. He has a little speed to him, or he’s shown the ability to stick with wideouts. He is a top preseason game target to watch.

3. Phillip Dorsett had a very nice back-of-the-end zone catch. It might have, likely even, been a sack for the defense in a live rep or team rep, but Davis Mills ripped the ball out as the whistle was starting to sound. Dorset with two feet in the back after juking a defender. He is squarely behind other wideouts having missed time but being a veteran should catch up quickly.

4. Wideout Connor Wedington had a few nice plays on Sunday. He has an uphill battle to make the roster, but Davis Mills’ former teammate might squeeze his way into the conversation. There are opportunities for him with a few other wideouts banged up.

5. Rookie tight end Teagan Quitoriano bodied his way for a touchdown. The rookie hasn’t done much in camp, but his size is clearly an advantage. Game reps and more padded practice will be important for him this preseason.

6. Chris Moore is a veteran taking yet another swing at making this team. If the Texans played tomorrow, I would have him on the roster. Probably even starting at slot wideout. He had a very nice leaping grab today.

7. Versatility for a couple of backup offensive linemen may lead to them making the team. Well, it certainly won’t hurt their case. Justin McCray has played all three interior offensive line spots. The veteran could start if needed, but I have to imagine he is a key backup inside. Scott Quessenberry (yes related to former Texans lineman David and current fullback Paul) played guard on Sunday. He is a factor to be Justin Britt’s backup at center.

8. Charlie Heck was not a pick I was in love with when Bill O’Brien selected him a couple of seasons ago. Heck has grown a lot in his game and physically and is surely the backup tackle for this team. He can play left and right tackle.

9. Tae Davis plays linebacker and wears 19. It is the strangest thing to see a linebacker in that number. It has not been strange to see Davis make a play here or there in practice. The linebacker room is loaded but Davis is making the most of his chances.

10. Ka’imi Fairbairn HAMMERED a ball right down the uprights after Davis Mills had led the team into field goal range on a last-minute drill. Mills easily moved the team down the field without the normal group of linemen or weapons. Good finish to practice.

11. Jonathan Greenard did some pushups after he couldn’t replicate history. Greenard almost had his second interception of Davis Mills, but the ball fell incomplete. Greenard has been a force in training camp.

Bonus Quote of the Day: “I was a fat guy last year” said Pharaoh Brown as he talked about his leaner and quicker frame compared to last year.

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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