TAKING A SWING

Barry Laminack: Astros could use a lineup change

Alex Bregman should move back up in the order. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Astros have scored 190 runs this season, the thir\rd highest total in baseball. They are averaging 4.87 runs per game, putting them eighth overall in the MLB. But 78 of their runs have come in 9 games against two of the worst teams in the AL (White Sox - 3 games, 27 runs and Athletics - 6 games, 51 runs ). That’s a whopping 8.6 runs per game average versus those two teams.

In the other 27 games? The Astors are averaging 4.1 runs per game. That would put them tied for 21st in baseball. So while the 190 runs looks great on paper, it feels more like fools' gold to me.

And while it seems as if some of the bats have woken up (welcome to the party Marwin Gonzalez - who is slashing .333/.385/.458 over the last seven days), I think it might be time for AJ hinch to explore a lineup change, specifically moving Alex Bregman back to the 2 hole.

On the surface Bregman’s numbers are admittedly underwhelming. His .259 batting average and .399 slugging percentage aren’t great, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see that Bregman has been doing “the little things” at the plate that make a huge difference.

His .369 OBP is second on the team, his 11 doubles are second on the team, he has the 2nd fewest strikeouts (21) on the team among hitters with over 100 plate appearances (Altuve has 20), but most impressive to me are his 23 walks, good for first on the team and it’s not even close (Reddick is second with 19...I know that surprised me too).

Oh did I mention Bregman is also 1st on the team with 3 steals?

I think moving Bregman back to the No. 2 hole in the lineup could end up having similar results that moving Springer to the leadoff spot dead a while back. What better way to increase run scoring on a team than to have traffic on the base paths, and the numbers prove that Bregman can provide that as much as anyone else on the team.

And while I understand that moving Correa and Altuve down a slot means they will get a few less at bats, I think it's more than acceptable to do so since it will also create more run producing opportunities for them.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans out-Patriot the Patriots

Texans take down the Pats. Photo by Getty Images.

Every dog has its day. A broken clock is right two times a day. All the clichés about it being better to be lucky than good can apply here with the Texans 27-20 win over the Patriots. In a matchup that broke a record for the oldest combined age for opposing head coaches, 141 years old, Romeo Crennel beat his former boss Bill Belichick. There were other narratives at work here, as well as a few things (good and awful) that the coaching staff did.

First thing I saw that I liked was the spread and no-huddle on offense. If you've been following this series of articles, you know I've been on this train quite a while now. This allows Deshaun Watson to find the matchup he likes, exposes the defense because they can't sub, takes advantage of Texans' speed at receiver, and creates a tempo most defenses can't keep up with. Not to mention the spread is the offense Watson operated in at Clemson. 28/37 for 344 yards and two touchdowns of production from Watson was enough for me to say they need to have this as their M.O. moving forward.

Tim Kelly called a great game. He used the short, quick pass game in lieu of the run game. This also helped since Laremy Tunsil was out and Roderick Johnson had to play at left tackle. This offensive line is not very good at run blocking. Hence, why Watson was again the team's leading rusher with only 36 yards. Almost all of those were on scrambles. By going spread and no-huddle, Watson can take advantage of man and zone coverages to extend plays or scramble because most teams won't spy him. Even when they do, he makes them look silly.

Not everything was on the up and up. The defense continued to look like booty juice. Cam Newton threw for 365 yards and Damiere FREAKIN Byrd torched them for 132 of those yards! When I heard the quote from Crennel that defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver is getting the most out of his guys, I found it laughable. To double down on that, Weaver was quoted as saying, "This narrative that's being painted like my guys aren't disciplined and running around blocks, quite frankly and to put it bluntly, is bull---t!" Sorry guys, but you're both wrong. This defense can't fight its way out of a wet paper bag if you gave them knives. The worst part about it is that the offense's best chance at success sets the defense up for failure. Their hurry up scheme leaves little time for this porous defense to catch its wind. If they could get some turnovers or just off the damn field and get stops, it would help the offense.

With six games left, their three games outside the AFC South (Bengals, Lions, Bears) are all winnable. The two matchups against the Colts and the season finale against the Titans will prove to be their biggest tests. However, this is the same team that has four one possession losses. 3-7 could look a lot different if the offense stepped up against the Browns, or the defense made stops against the Steelers, Vikings, or Titans. Let's hope they can build off this win and salvage whatever they can of this season.

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