Four Reasons Not to Panic, Astros Fans

For their struggles offensive, Justin Verlander looks in midseason form.
For their struggles offensive, Justin Verlander looks in midseason form. Photo by Jack Gorman
If you have been on vacation, you're forgiven for missing the opening of the Astros season. And, to be honest, you didn't miss much. The Astros lost three of four in Tampa Bay, including a game two loss to former Astro Charlie Morton. The bats were awful — Alex Bregman went 1-15 if that tells you anything — and they lost the last game of the series on a bunt by Jose Altuve.

Their only win came in the first game when, after a shaky start, ace Justin Verlander shut down everybody. It also happened to be the one game where the Astros bats were lively, against last year's Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, no less.

But, if you are feeling despondent, you are probably not familiar with baseball and it's extremely long season or you may just worry a lot. Either way, buck up there, friend, it's not as bad as you think.

The bullpen was as advertised.

There was a thought that, despite the losses of starters Morton, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, Jr., the bullpen would be as tough as ever. So far, so good. In four games, Astros relievers gave up a total of one run on six hits, three of those by Chris Devenski, who gave up the lone run. They also have amassed 14 strikeouts with only one walk in nine innings of work. As you might have guessed, that's pretty damn good.

Justin Verlander looks like a beast...again.

Verlander allowed a lead-off home run in the first game of the year, but he allowed essentially nothing thereafter. In seven innings, he gave up 3 hits and one run (on the solo shot to lead the game off) while striking out nine and walking only one. It's worth noting game one was the best game for the Astros hitting wise as well, given how little run support they gave Verlander in 2018.

Tampa Bay is a brutal place for the Astros.

Tropicana Field is a crappy place to play baseball and there are typically fewer seats filled than the average Rockets game, in a building that holds nearly twice as many as Toyota Center. There's also the bizarre roof that makes it difficult to see the ball. Still, the Astros are awful in Tampa Bay. They have only won nine games in 18 appearances there. It also should be said the Rays are a good team and the Astros faced a bunch of pitchers they've never seen before (they roughed up Snell, who they had faced twice previously). Still, it was another rough outing in Tampa.

The Rangers are next.

When all else fails, go to Dallas and whop the crap out of the Rangers.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke