The Astros are on the road, and it's a good thing. Composite Getty Image.
If it walks, talks, and acts a certain way, that's what it must be. When things are very obvious, I say: “Water is wet. Fire is hot.” This is definitely one of those times. It's as if people see the obvious, refuse to believe, constantly question what they're seeing, then ultimately end up disappointed when the outcome isn't what they expected.
39-42 at home and 51-30 on the road this year. Tied for third in the American League in run differential. Third in the American League in runs scored and batting average. Sixth in the American League in team ERA, ninth in saves, and seventh in opponent batting average. This is who the Houston Astros are! They are who we thought they were! And have been all season long!
I remember towards the end of the regular season telling my girlfriend they're so much better on the road than at home. Must've been one of those last days when the division was still hanging in the balance. I wanted them to win the Wildcard, so they could be on the road. Others were wanting them to win the division to get homefield advantage. I was told I'm crazy, amongst other things, for wanting to be a Wildcard. What people didn't understand is that this team hasn't been what they were previously all year.
After Wednesday night's 8-5 win and making the series 2-1, she told me, “You were right about them on the road versus at home.” When a team plays 162 games and has a trend, believe it. Not only believe it, but have faith they'll continue the trend. If this is the fate they're bound to, so be it. While not ideal, it is what it is.
Another thing I've noticed is that the bats and pitching don't always align. They'll win high scoring games but lose close ones. They'll give you a heart attack trying to figure out if Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde is showing up to the ballpark. When they're on the road, it's a little easier to predict.
My off the wall suggestion: Start to boo at Minute Maid if the series returns to Houston. Wear red and blue instead of blue and orange. Make signs about cheating and trash cans. Come dressed as trash cans. And for the love of all things holy, STOP DOING THE DAMN WAVE!!!
Seriously, fans need to calm down a bit. They're doing what they've always done since April. It's October. Behavior like this is why some of you get caught off guard when a person turns out to be creepy when you thought they were so nice. Show up and show out. Support the team. Don't get upset when they drop home games as if you haven't seen this before. They're battle tested and built for this. Time to ride the wave!
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.