After finishing 86-76 and 84-78 over the last two seasons, the Houston Astros had officially turned the corner after the worst stretch in franchise history. Consider: the Astros, who hadn’t finished with back-to-back winning seasons since 2005-06, went 162-324 (.333) from 2011-13.
That seems like a lifetime ago.
Yes, as we approach the All-Star break, the Houston Astros (58-28) have the best record in baseball and lead the Angels (44-45) by 15.5 games in the AL West.
That’s right: 15.5 games. In July.
“We knew we had a good team,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “We’e got a lot of good young players that we’ve been accumulating over the past five or six years and added a bunch of veterans this year, and the combination seems to be working pretty well. We were hoping for a good start. We weren’t quite expecting this kind of start. We’re halfway through, and things are in pretty good shape right now. We’ve obviously got to finish strong, we’re excited about where we are, and this is a really fun team to watch. I think when people see the All-Star Game next Tuesday, they’re going to see some of our talent – maybe for the first time, maybe not. But it’s definitely a fun team to watch.”
Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Dallas Keuchel, and Lance McCullers Jr. were named to the All-Star team.
The Astros have the best run differential (+139) in the American League and are a majors-best 31-10 on the road. Houston, however, isn’t resting on its laurels. The Astros want to get better, and they will consider all options before the July 31 trade.
“Certainly we’re going to take a look at every available opportunity,” Luhnow said. “I think we’re in an advantageous position that we have a really nice lead right now in our division, so things that we do are probably going to be with an eye toward the playoffs. If we’re fortunate to hang on to the lead, how do we improve this team in a seven-game series against the Boston Red Sox or the Cleveland Indians or whoever we might end up facing? It usually starts with pitching, so we’re going to have to take a look at every available starting pitcher that we think would be an addition to our rotation.”
Houston has had a phenomenal season despite injuries to several pitchers, including Charlie Morton, who returns from the DL on Friday, Collin McHugh (elbow), who will likely return in July, and Keuchel (neck), who will be activated sometime after the All-Star break.
“We’ve got some guys coming back,” Luhnow said, “but we’d be foolish not to look at some other guys that could potentially help our rotation in a playoff situation.”