Editors Note: Chris is a southeast Texas native that has followed Houston sports for most of his life. His main hobbies are drinking good beer or whiskey, watching and betting sports, and being a family man. You can follow him on twitter @ChrisCampise
By CHRIS CAMPISE
On Wednesday night when the Astros were 3-0 after completing the comeback in the thirteenth inning against the Mariners, I have to admit I was way high on this team. I even took a stab at Rangers fans who were 0-3 at the time. Little did I know we were reaching the peak of the rollercoaster we were strapped in for. They managed to get through with a winning week, but it didn’t come easy, and it left more questions than answers from where we started.
It was actually a strange week in retrospect when you consider the areas of worry going in versus what we saw in reality. We went in worried about starting pitching, but that was one of the strongest parts of the week. Keuchel looked great on opening day, both in his pitching and defense. Despite giving up one long ball in his second start on Saturday, he still looked to be in control of his game and could be back to 2015 Keuchel. McCullers has started hot with seventeen strikeouts in thirteen innings pitched, proving he’s a great fit in that second spot in the rotation. Morton, Musgrove, and Fiers all looked decent enough, they just didn’t have the run support they needed.
On the flip side, the offense which we expected to be explosive and the strong suit of the team never really strung together a big inning. They lived off the long ball, which works just fine at home, but may be a challenge on the road. It’s not the time to panic by any means, they just need some time to shake the rust off and get the chemistry going. Altuve certainly isn’t going to be sitting at a .200 batting average for long, and the new additions (namely Beltran and McCann) are fitting in just fine. Don’t be surprised if Altuve gets going on this road trip and sparks the entire offense.
Overall, I thought the bullpen was solid. Granted, a couple of times they had guys go out and crap the bed (I’m looking at you Gregerson), but otherwise, their depth proved well. Chris Devenski was strong out of the pen throwing for eight innings between the two extra-inning affairs. Giles got knocked around a little on Thursday night, but otherwise is still the guy the Astros want to give the ball to in the ninth. Other than Gregerson’s complete meltdown on Saturday, the other low spot was Gustave. He only managed to stay in for one and two-thirds innings during which he gave up four walks, four hits, and three earned runs.
The ‘Stros head on the road this week, playing three games against the Mariners in Seattle before heading to Oakland for three games against the A’s. If I’m A.J. Hinch, my focus this week is eliminating the errors in baserunning that may have cost them some runs this past week and trying to get the offense clicking better to get more of those runners home. They need to hold on to the winning record, and under no circumstances can they afford to slip up and possibly send themselves to another disastrous April like last year when they went 7-17.
MVP of the week – George Springer: I don’t think there’s too much debate to be had here. Springer had a leadoff home run in the first at-bat by an Astro in 2017 on his way to four for the first seven games. He played the hero Wednesday night with the walk-off in the 13th inning and put his body on the line on defense too. He should be a contender for AL player of the week.