Takeaways from the Astros' 1-3 start
Some way-too-early Astros observations after Opening Weekend
Even with the calendar just turning over to April, everyone has a series (or two in the case of the A's and Mariners) to over-analyze and overreact to. I thought the first series was going to be important for the Astros, but I'm by no means ready to start considering a panic after a few bad games of offense put them with a 1-3 record.
Do you know who else is sitting with just one win? The Yankees and Red Sox; and does anyone think that these teams aren't going to be around in September? Should we go ahead and crown the 5-1 Mariners as champions? That being said, there were some good (and not so good) observations to be made in these first four games:
Strong pitching performances
Granted, who knows if the Rays offense will prove to be any good this year, but nonetheless, Houston's pitching looked strong in the first series. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole combined for 19 strikeouts and two earned runs (Cole did allow a few unearned) over their 13 innings in the first two games, both showing that they could easily match the numbers they put up last year. Collin McHugh looked terrific early in his start, which could mean that as he gets back into the rhythm of longer outings he could carryover his strong relief appearances from last year into quality starts. Wade Miley didn't wow anyone with his start on Sunday, but it was still a quality start, and he could easily get better as the year progresses. As for the bullpen, they gave up just one earned run in their nine innings of work, all looking sharp and prepared for the year.
New players making impacts
In addition to Miley mentioned above, Michael Brantley and Aledmys Diaz both have a few games under their belt with their new team, and have made their presence known, but not both in positive ways. Brantley has had a great impact so far, he went 5 for 13 and sits with a .385 average and was the owner of one of the homers against Blake Snell in the Opening Day win. Diaz, on the other hand, has had a rough start to his season, hitting an ugly .000 at the plate with an 0 for 9 including nine strikeouts, and made an error in Friday's game that extended an inning that resulted in the Rays scoring multiple runs. He'll have to turn things around quickly to be trusted as the new Astros utility player.
Early season offensive woes
After four games, Jose Altuve sits with a .214 average while Jake Marisnick leads the team at .429. Alex Bregman has gone 1 for 15, and Carlos Correa went 0 for 3 in his debut on Sunday. These are all things that have a very low chance of lasting to the end of this week, much less the end of April or beyond. Just like I don't think Blake Snell will be giving up five runs on three homers in his starts this year, I don't see the Astros being held to their poor performances this weekend in a long-term fashion. We've been here before, give them some time to ramp up and they're likely to never look back.
Everyone looks healthy
After the year of discomfort in 2018, and Carlos Correa finally getting into the lineup on Sunday after missing the first three games with said discomfort, we finally have a chance to look at a full lineup of healthy players. Jose Altuve showed no slowdown in his speed after his knee issues from last season, and even though he didn't earn a hit, Carlos Correa looked to have his usual drive behind his swing on Sunday. Alex Bregman made several strong throws all the way into foul territory across to first base, showing his elbow is in good shape as well. With the infield and the top of the batting order healthy and intact, there's just no way that this team doesn't work their way back to the top of the rankings.
158 games to go
That's right, 158. After just 4 of 162 games, there's simply no way to assume what any team truly is yet. Short of some serious injuries or trades, there's just simply no way this Houston team finishes with a .250 winning percentage, so let's not get too carried away after one series. That being said, a lot of the games this season have some series impact both for momentum and experience for possible playoff matchups. The Yankees are coming to town next week, then we'll get an ALDS rematch when the Indians come to Houston at the end of the month. While the Astros have time to figure things out and get going, they can't afford to wait too long or the other good teams who figure it out first may just use that to their advantage in the regular season and beyond.