22 games into the 2016 season, the Astros are in an undeniably unenviable position, with an unintimidating 7-15 record. At this point, almost a month through the season, it would be easy for Astros fans and baseball enthusiasts to start writing off the possibility of a repeat playoff run. But is this start indicative of the potential of the team? I don’t think so.
In the last week, there has been a light, however dim, that has shown the team is, to quote Monty Python “not dead yet.”
The team demonstrated resiliency and chemistry in their win versus the Red Sox (thanks Colby Rasmus) and their fight in the second loss. They defeated the Mariners last night playing very solid ball.
What perhaps may be playing a larger role than people take into account is the aspect of high expectations. We’ve all seen the mental effects huge contracts can have on players (*cough* Carl Crawford *cough*)
The Astros in 2015 were not expected to make the playoffs, but through team chemistry and raw young talent they proved everyone wrong. There was a sense of being an “underdog” throughout the season which does not exist this year. Playing with a certain energy of being an underdog can be tough to transition into playing with the energy of being expected to play very well.
But it can be done. And it can be done by these 2016 Astros. The level of talent is too high to not at least finish over .500. Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel, Carlos Correa among several others lead the team without necessarily being veterans of the league, and that is just part of the chemistry of the team.
The Astros next play Friday in Oakland versus an Athletics team that is playing solid but not dominating ball. Look for Mike Fiers to contribute a quality start and for the awakening of what still could be a very scary offense.