Takeaways from the Astros' 1-3 start

Some way-too-early Astros observations after Opening Weekend

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

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.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Should Watson be in the MVP conversation? Composite image by Jack Brame.

The 2020 NFL season has a lot going on. Even if we take the coronavirus out of it, there's still a lot to digest. There are so many great performances being put up, one can make an argument for several players to win league MVP. The quarterback position typically gets more credit than others. If I restrict the argument to quarterbacks only, we're looking at Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers. Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Derrick Henry are the leading contenders at running back. On defense, there really isn't a standout defender. The defense gets no love, but there are several guys in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Deshaun Watson has been putting up numbers that have matched or rivaled some of the top MVP candidates over his last seven games. That stretch has coincided with the firing of head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien. Coincidence? I think not. Taking the reigns off a wild horse can often lead to said horse running free and flourishing! So question: Should Watson be getting league MVP considerations? I think so.

For starters, he's been one of the best players in the league over the course of the last seven games. 18 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions. The only quarterback with a better touchdown to interception ratio over that same span is Mahomes (19 and 2, as opposed to Watson's 18 & 2). Factoring in total season stats, of course Mahomes is doing much better. He's on a better team with a much better coach and general manager. The same could be said for Wilson and Rodgers. Put Watson on any of those teams and their records wouldn't be any worse than what they are now.

The Texans are 4-3 since firing O'Brien. While that isn't a great record, consider the fact they started the season 0-4 and looked like a total disaster. Watson looked like he was caged and couldn't wait to be freed. The team's record could be even better if the defense had a pulse. The proper supporting cast has a lot to do with a player's MVP candidate's chances. Now that one of his favorite weapons, Will Fuller, and the team's best corner, Bradley Roby, are both suspended for the rest of the season by the league for violating the substance abuse/PED policy, things will get much tougher for Watson.

If he continues to put up these cartoon like numbers, I don't see why he wouldn't be in the MVP conversation. He's currently fopurth in passing yards, sixth in completion percentage, tied for fifth in passing touchdowns, eighth in QBR, and third in quarterback rating. Watson is emerging as the star he was projected to be coming into the 2017 draft. I'm not saying Watson deserves to be the league MVP, but he deserves to be in the conversation. His MVP candidacy should be treated like the family gathering hierarchy: once you reach a certain age and/or status, you're no longer resigned to the kiddie table. Now you get to sit with all the adults, engage in their conversations, and gain access to things you couldn't previously. Watson won't win the MVP award, but I strongly believe he could finish top five. Especially if he keeps making lemonade with the lemons he's been given.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome