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MLB Focus: Don’t Sweat Astros’ Slow Start

Carlos Gomez Astros

After underperforming out of the gate, the 6-13 Houston Astros are the most disappointing team in the still fresh MLB season. Currently dead last in the American League West, many, including myself, picked the young Astros to be the class of their division and a serious threat to represent the AL in the World Series, but they’ve already seen their World Series odds dip from +1600 to +2000.

Even with the third worst record in the bigs so far, it’s too soon to overreact to the sluggish start as Houston should still be considered among the elite in the American League.

Reason being is because things are about to get easier.

After getting kicked around by the Yankees in New York and getting roughed up by the Royals and Rangers, the Astros’ next nine games will come against the 1-5 at home Mariners, the overachieving A’s and the Twins who are currently the AL’s worst team. The teams they’ve played so far have a .500 win percentage, while their next three opponents combine to have a .428 win mark.

As long as the rotation schedules stay the same for Seattle and Oakland, Houston will miss both Felix Hernandez and Sonny Gray. Following six road games in Oakland and Seattle, who the ‘Stros went a combined 22-16 against in 2015, they’ll head back to Houston for a 10 game homestand.

With just two road wins on the season, we should see Houston really start to flip the script on their season during the 10 home games against the Twins, Mariners and Indians. Houston was significantly better at home last season — .654 home win percentage compared to .407 on the road. They were dramatically better on the defensive end at Minute Maid Park, allowing just 3.46 runs per game, compared to 4.16 on the road.

While it’s been business as usual at the dish for Astros hitters (expect for Carlos Gomez and his .194 AVG with 0 home runs and 1 RBI), it’s the pitching that’s mainly to blame for the slow start. Houston was the American League’s best team in 2015 at keeping runners from crossing the plate at 3.83 runs allowed per game, but that number has been jacked way up to 5.05 so far in 2016, good enough for dead last in the AL. The team ERA has also jumped from 3.57 to 4.85.

Quite simply, it’s not realistic to expect this type of falloff to last all season. Be patient and watch (or bet on) this team over the next 16 games as things get back to normal in Houston.