Unsung Astros

Short-handed Astros are showing us why we should #NeverSettle

Rondon is making his case to stay in the closer's role. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

There’s a difference between being disappointed when a star player gets hurt and giving up hope. Which category were you in? Let’s rewind a little bit.

  • May 29: Brian McCann lands on the DL with right knee soreness.

McCann is replaced with Federowicz. One starter on the DL—not bad.

  • June 26: Carlos Correa hits the DL with back soreness.

This one hurts, but it’s okay. We’ve got bats to spare.

  • July 28: Jose Altuve get sent to the DL with a right knee injury.

Jose Altuve hits the DL for the first time in his career, and it comes when we drop three straight to the Rangers. Nice.

  • August 3: Chris Devenski goes to the 10-day DL with left hamstring tightness.

A reliable arm from the bullpen joins relief pitcher Jandel Gustave on the DL. Okay, that’s enough.

  • August 4: Lance McCullers Jr. leaves game, is placed on 10-day DL the following day with elbow discomfort.

Down goes a pitcher from our impressive starting rotation that’s been used consistently from opening day.

  • August 6: George Springer sent to the DL with a left thumb injury.

Seriously?

 

Welcome back. It’s been tough for the defending world champs when it comes to injuries, but have you given up on them? Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t.

They’re still winning games.

Starting July 28, when Altuve left the lineup, the Astros are 6-4. With a couple of tough losses in that ten-game stretch, they’re still winning some important series, including those against the Mariners and the Dodgers.

The Astros also maintain the second-best record in all of baseball, only behind the Red Sox, staying ahead of last season’s pace. With Carlos Correa hopefully returning soon, the team will have even more help in continuing that pace.

Players are taking on positions that they’re not necessarily used to.

Gurriel has started at second base only three times in his MLB career—both of them were this season. Bregman has also returned to shortstop, a position that he hasn’t played in much since coming to Houston. These guys are helping manager AJ Hinch be creative with these lineups with several starters not playing.

Players like JD Davis and Tyler White are also seeing their names on the lineup cards a lot more often in these unusual lineups. White has more than earned his spot in the lineup recently with some important hits in crucial innings. The 27-year-old has nine hits including Tuesday’s go-ahead homer in his last seven outings with the ‘Stros.

The pitching has been excellent. Yes, even the bullpen!

We’ve talked about a few names from the bullpen this season—in both good and bad lights—but right now, it’s about Héctor Rondón. He’s appeared in the closer spot a lot in recent games and has managed to impress many. In his three appearances in the month of August, Rondón has racked up three strikeouts with no earned runs.

It’ll be interesting to see how McCullers’ injury will play out, but in the meantime, the Astros are keeping their pitching in a good place with an MLB-best team ERA of 3.00, despite missing guys like Devenski and McCullers.

This is a team that can win another World Series.

All in all, we can be a little bit pissed at the baseball gods for how these injuries have stacked up. We can also look forward to the return of these injured players. What we cannot do is count this team out. They’re proving to us with each game that we should never settle and to expect every bit of fight they have in that clubhouse to be laid out on the field day after day. This is the kind of team you need to win back-to-back championships.

 

 

 

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The Texans are moving in the wrong direction. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

1. This team started incredibly slow and outside of a couple of drives in the second half disappointed. The defense got worked by the Chargers' star players, and the offense sputtered too often. It was really a summary of the season up to this point which is to say inconsistency.

2. Davis Mills was shaky early. The first drive interception was tough to stomach. The pocket got messy as he tried to drive the ball and he floated one up there. It gave the Chargers an easy drive for seven points.

3. One of the early offensive mistakes erased a scoring opportunity. Kenyon Green got nailed for a holding call that erased one of the best passes and catches between Brandin Cooks and Davis Mills all season. The rookie’s mistake was compounded the very next play when the offense allowed Mills to be sacked. It was a 40-yard swing that led to a punt.

4. Another third down penalty led to a mishap for the Texans. Laremy Tunsil gets a false start on third down to make it third and 10. The shovel pass to Rex Burkhead goes for six yards and then the Texans botch the field goal. Back-to-back drives and third-down penalties affected the offense and ended with no points. That was all just in the first quarter!

5. The Texans were abysmal with short yardage in key spots yet again. In the second quarter, Pep Hamilton opted for a pass on fourth and one. Davis Mills never got the play off and was sacked. After the game, Mills said the team wanted to catch the Chargers off guard running when most expected a pass, but Rex Burkhead was the running back. It was again a situation, a key and critical moment, that the team trusted Burkhead over the more dynamic Dameon Pierce.

6. The Chargers were very chunky on offense against the Texans. There were 16 plays that went for at least ten yards for the Chargers of their 67 plays. Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler were fantastic for Los Angeles.

7. The pass rush was non-existent for the Texans. This was one of the more disappointing aspects of the day to consider the Chargers were playing a rookie right guard, their center is injured but playing, and the left tackle was a backup left tackle. Nothing seemed to get home on an injured Justin Herbert. The Texans recorded just two quarterback hits in the game.

8. The linebackers got worked again. This is the absolute weakest unit on the team right now. They look like they’re easily exploited by most opposing offenses.

9. It was a rough day for the rookie class of the Texans. Derek Stingley was handled by Mike Williams on multiple occasions in key spots. Kenyon Green allowed a big sack and had a holding penalty erase a huge play. Jalen Pitre was the target of some offensive success in the Chargers' passing game.

10. Not all the rookies had a bad day. Dameon Pierce is so much fun to watch. He has the chance to be a truly impactful player for this team. His 75-yard touchdown scamper gave the team some juice, and he constantly fights and gets extra yards when the ball is headed his way. He finished with 14 carries and six catches for 20 total touches.

11. The Texans need teams to help them stay in games, and even then, it is a challenge. The tough part about where the Texans are through four games is there are some positives to look at and point to, but not enough to say the team is surely headed in the right direction. There surely has to be some adjustment by the team when the season is where it is after nearly a quarter of the year. The current direction isn’t going to lead anywhere positive soon.

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