Houston Astros’ pitching has cost them their season-long division lead


This Houston Astros team was an anomaly from the start. A bunch of thrown together power-hitters with ridiculous strikeout numbers combined with a handful of questionable starters and sprinkle in some phenomenal youth prospects? Sounds like a recipe that could breed absolutely anything.

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Up until recently, that recipe had bred surprising success. But as it is with most anomalies, it is impossible to predict what will happen next. As such, the Houston Astros have seen their near-season-long division lead turn into a deficit, as they now sit in second place in the division after being swept in a four game set by the Texas Rangers.

So who is to blame for the steady skid? Is it the strikeout-ridden lineup? The sprightly, youthful 20-somethings that set the table? No. Nobody on the offense is to blame. At least not for the majority of the downfall. The Houston Astros pitching is to blame, from Dallas Keuchel right down to Luke Gregerson.

This pitching staff used to be one of the best in the game. Anchored by Dallas Keuchel, the Astros had a young, yet sturdy starting rotation. Behind them was a mass of relievers that all seemed to be holding their wits masterfully. Games were no longer lost in the dying embers like they had been in years past. Even to this day, the Houston Astros boast the best team ERA in the American League. Their bullpen was third in the American League in ERA.

But that was on the whole of the season. What about lately?

In September, the Houston Astros have the third worst ERA in the American League at a whopping 5.81. Josh Fields, Oliver Perez, Chad Qualls, Will Harris and Pat Neshek have notched the Houston Astros 6 losses in September. Combined, they have pitched 40 innings in the month and surrendered 26 earned runs. That is the bulk of the Houston Astros’ bullpen.

But it does not stop with the bullpen. Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh have combined to go 0-2 in their last three starts, pitching just 14 innings and surrendering 17 earned runs. Obviously the bulk of that came against the Texas Rangers, but even without that game, these two are not producing.

Scott Kazmir too, has been rather underwhelming. In his last 5 starts, he is 1-2 with 14 runs surrendered in 30 innings.

When you are giving up that many runs, you have to have an offense that produces runs. But as we have covered in the past, the Houston Astros do not have a consistent offense. Without Gomez, the consistency in Houston stops after the third spot in the lineup. After that it is boom or bust.

Without a division that had been up-and-down like the American League West had been, the Astros would have faltered long ago. They fended off an Angels rally because the Angels killed off their own rally. Unfortunately for the Houston Astros, the Texas Rangers did not kill of their own rally. At least not yet.

Next: Carlos Gomez injury puts Astros in world of hurt

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