Breaking down 4 Houston Astros that are heating up in May
After completing a sweep of their division rival Seattle Mariners, the Astros are only 2 games behind the Los Angeles Angels for first place in the American League West.
Similar to last season, Houston’s bats got off to a slow start during the month of April, with only Michael Brantley hitting consistently above .270.
Once the calendar flipped from April to May, their offense has awoken and multiple players are ending their offensive woes.
King Tuck awakens
Kyle Tucker for the second consecutive year started off the season slow at the plate, and at one point had an abysmal .087 batting average on April 22nd.
The 25-year-old outfielder has since found himself out of this hole, and is hitting .455/.500/.727 over his last seven games. Tucker is also tied for second on the team in RBI with Yordan Alvarez, who also got off to a slow start this season.
Air Yordan is now boarding
Similarly to Tucker, Alvarez was hitting below .200 until the Astros went to Arlington and beat the Rangers in three of four games.
Since the conclusion of that series, the 24-year-old native Cuban is hitting .333/.448/.833 with four home runs and eight RBI during that span.
Tucker and Alvarez were two of the main reasons Houston had the best offense in baseball last year, and now that these two are hitting like they did during the 2021 season, there is no limit to how far this offense can take the Astros this year.
It's not just the hitters who are improving at the right time, as two veteran pitchers are finding their strides as well.
JV is still dealing
Justin Verlander’s start to the 2022 season has been nothing short of spectacular.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery in late 2020 and missing the entire 2021 season, the former Cy-Young award winner looks as if he hasn’t missed a beat during his time away from the game.
Through five starts this season, the 39-year-old has a 3-1 record and a 1.93 ERA. His fastball is hitting the mid 90’s as in years past, and is putting away batters with his slider and curveball with ease.
Verlander has not given up more than three runs in any of his starts and has the 6th lowest ERA in the American League.
“It's just one start at a time," Verlander said. “This game will bring you down in a hurry so you can't be complacent. But I would say it’s better to get off to a good start than a bad one, but I've just got to keep working."
If JV continues to pitch like this, the Astros staff will be in good hands every time their ace is on the mound.
Don’t discount Jake
Jake Odorizzi had the worst start by any Astros pitcher two weeks ago when he was pulled after allowing 6 runs in 2/3 of an inning.
His two starts since that outing were much better, and it seems as though the veteran pitcher has much more confidence on the mound. The 32-year-old pitched through 6.2 innings on Monday (his longest outing as an Astro) and didn’t allow any runs to score.
“It’s just good to be able to have success, go execute a game plan, give the team a chance to win," Odorizzi said.
The Astros are 8-2 over their last ten games, in large part due to their offensive resurgence and stellar starting pitching performances as of late.
Assuming the Astros can have consistent performances at the plate and on the mound, there is reason to believe Houston will be vying for their 6th consecutive postseason appearance.