When you start searching for what's wrong and all you can find is Tyler White, you're in pretty good shape.

Astros: Life is Good!

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These days if you're an Astros fan, there isn't a whole lot to complain about. Normally it's about this time of the season when critics, columnists, and fans start to pick apart the shortcomings and problem areas of their favorite baseball team. In years past it was easy to find a soft spot and ponder who should go, what prospects could help bring in veteran help and what a move or two could do to elevate the squad and put them on top of every list and power ranking heading into the postseason.

Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa celebrating in game one of the ALDS Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Well, this year it doesn't look like there is going to be a huge need for all that chatter as the team is rolling through the first few months of the season and show little signs of slowing down. In fact, with each passing day and the next game of the schedule, it seems as if they are only going to get better.

Astros Justin Verlander Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

As Houston wrapped up the offseason and entered spring training, the oddsmakers had the team in a neck and neck battle with the Red Sox and Yankees for supremacy in the American League and the best record in baseball. However questions swirled about the starting rotation and if they had enough depth and quality arms after losing Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. from last years team. Would Wade Miley be an adequate replacement for one of those guys? Could Brad Peacock and Colin McHugh step up as they stepped back into a starting role? Would the bullpen suffer when those two solid arms were taken out of the middle relief and late game specialist assignments that they routinely excelled in a year ago? Could young arms like Josh James and Framber Valdez be ready to take the next step in their careers and become full-time Major Leaguers?

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As we get deeper into the second quarter of the season it looks less and less like any of these questions could become full-blown issues and instead look like a pitching staff that is poised to once again be considered one of the deepest and best collections of arms in all of baseball. Youngster Corbin Martin has been a pleasant surprise as he replaced McHugh in the rotation while having Colin back in the pen has given even more stability and flexibility to the bullpen that has been statistically the best in all of MLB. Justin Verlander is once again a leading candidate for the Cy Young Award and Gerrit Coles seems to be settling back into his dominant form of a year ago. Wade Miley has been better than advertised by Jeff Luhnow as he has posted quality start after solid outing while keeping his ERA low and his innings pitched high. The back end of the bullpen has been the best in baseball with Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna basically being lights out when they take the mound, putting teams on notice that if you are going to beat this Astros team, you better do it in the first 7 innings.

Astros Alex Bregman Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images


The lineup is ripping the cover off the ball, hitting for average while posting power numbers that put them in elite offensive company with not only the best teams in both leagues but some of the best of all time. Recently numbers, charts, and statistics have put this years offensive output in direct comparison to the all-time great 1927 Yankees. Sure it's still early but if they can keep it up for a full season and continue to dominate American League pitching, then the sky is the limit for how good the offensive production can be.

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George Springer would be your AL MVP if the season ended today as he leads or is near the top in most offensive categories including average, home runs, hits and runs batted in. He is joined in most of those categories by newcomer Michael Brantley who has fit right in with his new squad after a career with Cleveland and has bolstered the middle of the batting order with his power stroke and timely base knocks. Josh Reddick has found his swing after a few up and down campaigns, as he is hitting well above .300, with power numbers on the rise and most importantly, good solid numbers against lefties as well as righties. Carlos Correa is healthy and that was all he needed to return to form as one of the best hitting shortstops in the game and Alex Bregman is heating back up after a slightly slower start than expected. This lineup is potent, deep, powerful and has the potential to be solid from 1 through 9 on a daily basis.

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Robinson Chirinos has answered all the questions behind the dish and with his bat, as he has lived up to the billing as a guy that has hit well at Minute Maid Park and has even stepped up on the road swinging a timely stick at the bottom of the order. Aledmys Diaz has made Luhnow look like a genius as he was hand-picked to replace the popular Marwin Gonzalez who left for big money and cooler temperatures in Minnesota. Diaz has been the swiss army knife on defense, filling in wherever and whenever AJ Hinch needs him and his bat has been better than expected with long ball power and solid contact whenever he is at the plate. If you think this team is good now and they can't get any better, just wait until Jose Altuve returns from the nagging hamstring injury that put him on the IL after a less than Altuve like start to the season. We have seen this story before as he has periodically struggled to start a season, only to have 200 hits and another silver slugger when all is said and done. If all you have to complain about with this years Astros team is Tyler White's lack of offense and Tony Kemp not hitting like he did last season, life is good and it may even get better!

There are plenty of reasons to watch

An exciting week ahead for the Astros

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After the disappointing 12-0 blowout loss to the Blue Jays on Father's Day to end last week, Houston will turn the page to a new one with some compelling components to look forward to in the next seven days. With a full seven-game week ahead, here are some of the things to be watching for:

The Alvarez roadshow

We are six games into the Yordan Alvarez experience, and over those six games, he has homered in four. Some of those would have been home runs nearly anywhere, but this week we will get to see how he handles leaving the confines of Minute Maid Park.

Luckily for Alvarez, both Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati and Yankee Stadium in New York provide a boost for left-handed hitters, especially Yankee Stadium with its short porch in right field. He'll also potentially get to face some pitchers who have been struggling with the long ball in Tyler Mahle for the Reds and J.A. Happ for the Yankees. It should shape up to be another big week at the plate for Alvarez, maintaining his at-bats as being much-watch TV.

Pitchers hitting in Cincinnati 

Houston will make their first trip to a National League park in 2019 to start the week with a three-game series with the Reds. The inter-league matchup presents the rare opportunity to see the DH-less Astros send their pitcher to the plate to try and contribute on offense.

The three pitchers we will get to see: Wade Miley, Justin Verlander, and Gerrit Cole. Miley has a career batting average of .155 including one home run from back in 2013 with the Diamondbacks. Last year with the Brewers he hit .185 with five hits and a walk over 27 at-bats.

Cole is no stranger to the batter's box, playing the first five years of his career in the National League for Pittsburgh. He's a career .168 hitter and hit a home run in three out of his five seasons with the Pirates. However, he lost a little bit of his swing last season, going 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts for the Astros in his first season as part of his new American League team.

Then there's Justin Verlander. He has played in the AL his entire career, making him mostly a stranger at the plate. That makes it no surprise that his batting numbers aren't quite at the level of his dominant pitching numbers, hitting just .104 in his career. He has notched an RBI, though, getting the first of his career in 2017 for the Tigers before coming over to Houston.

So with that, it should be an entertaining series to start the week, and will likely make fans of the American League relish the fact that they get to have a Designated Hitter in the lineup every day.

Two starts for Verlander

While he may not be an All-Star with a bat, he's definitely on track to a lot of awards this year on the mound. Verlander is scheduled to make two starts this week, one on Tuesday night against the Reds, then another on Sunday in New York against the Yankees.

Not only does that mean two chances to see if Verlander can keep up the breakneck pace he's on in 2019, but it will also mean moving up another spot on the all-time strikeout list. At 2,831 in his career, he's just one away from tying, and two from passing, Mickey Lolich for the 19th spot on the famed list. Lolich has a connection with Justin, as he pitched thirteen seasons with the Tigers between 1963 and 1975.

Once Verlander takes over that spot, next up will be Jim Bunning who sits in 18th with 2,855 strikeouts, 24 ahead of the Astros' ace. Considering he threw 15 Ks in his last start, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could be tied or in sole possession of that 18th spot before the week is over, though to do so he'll have to have a fantastic game against a very potent Yankees lineup.

Potential pieces coming back into place

We should know more after tomorrow's game which will be a back-to-back start for the former-MVP, but the Astros are expected to have Jose Altuve rejoin the team while on this road trip. Not that the Astros have been horrid on offense without him, but having him back on the field will provide an uptick in performance, and moral.

Two other players in similar situations as Altuve and expected to come back up are Max Stassi and Collin McHugh. Stassi will likely retake his roster spot as the backup catcher, meaning Garret Stubbs will make the trip back to Round Rock. As far as McHugh, we will have to wait and see if he makes some appearances out of the bullpen to ramp things back up before going back into the rotation, or if AJ Hinch has other plans going forward.

In any case, getting some of these players back means the team is getting healthy again. George Springer has been ramping up activities, and we should hear about a rehab assignment for him soon. Carlos Correa, however, remains sidelined and the Astros should remain conservative with his recovery.

Huge weekend series in the Bronx 

After the three-game set in Cincinnati against the Reds, the Astros will travel to New York for a big four-game weekend series with the Yankees. The Yankees made a big splash in the trade market this past week, taking advantage of a liquidating Mariners team who was willing to deal Edwin Encarnacion to New York for a lone prospect player along with some cash trading. Encarnacion currently leads the American League in home runs, giving the Yankees yet another mighty bat in their lineup.

Two of the other powerful batters that are scheduled to make returns to the lineup this week: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Both are currently on rehab stints and expected to rejoin the major-league team before this week is over. The Yankees will catch the 3-4-5-1 spots in Houston's rotation, which will be an intriguing matchup on both sides.

In any case, no matter who we see back in the lineups this weekend, it's going to be a fun and high-intensity matchup with these two teams currently both in the top four in win-loss records in the league. Also, the Yankees will likely be out to even the score after the Astros swept them in Houston in a three-game series in early April.

It sets up to be what many consider a preview of an ALDS or ALCS matchup between two of the best teams not only in the American League but the entire league.

Where will the Astros stand, both in their record and in roster spots, when this week concludes? It's hard to predict, but regardless, it should be a fun week to catch some Astros games on TV.

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