After clobbering the Rockies for the second straight day, the Astros head into the final 47 games of the season with a commanding 10-game lead in the AL West, a virtual tie with the Yankees for the best record in the American League and only a half game separating them from the Dodgers for the best record in baseball.
None of this is terribly unexpected. The Astros are very good and most people thought they would be. Regardless, it bears repeating, especially given the trade deadline day moves they made and the health they are enjoying at the moment up and down the lineup. They are a scary good team with an excellent shot at owning the best record in baseball (and home field advantage) when the playoffs begin. It's a safe bet they reach 100 wins and they could certainly challenge for the all-time team record of 103 wins set last season.
But, that's not just because they are winning at the moment — six straight if you are counting. It's also because their schedule to close out the 2019 season is remarkably favorable, particularly because of all the games against teams in their own division where they are an unbelievable 38-12. Let's break it down.
Games Remaining: 47
AL West Opponent Games: 26
Games Against Teams Over .500: 15
The Astros have eight games against the A's, 10 against the Angels, six against the Mariners and two against the Rangers. Note that of the 12 games they have lost in this division, six came against the Rangers, most at the start of the season. Even after a rough start, they are 11-6 against Texas. That means they are a combined 27-6 against the remaining teams in their division. Having an AL West-heavy schedule to finish the season is a gift. And when you consider that eight of their remaining games against teams over .500 are against Oakland, it really waters down that winning percentage.
They only have one series remaining against the National League, a three-game set in Milwaukee against a middling Brewers club that is in a battle with about eight teams for the NL wild card spots. The Brew Crew are OK at home, but they have a minus 26 run differential. The Astros are plus 152 (and that was before their shellacking of the Rockies Wednesday afternoon).
The Worst of the Worst
The Astros also play some of the bottom of the barrel franchises through their final games. They have three with the 41-74 Royals, three with the 46-70 Blue Jays, four with the 33-77 Tigers and three with the 38-75 Orioles. They have nearly as many games against these cellar dwellers as they do against teams over .500.
Without question, the visit from the Rays will be their toughest test of the remaining stretch. They lost three of their first four of the season in Tampa Bay during a rather rough opening couple weeks of the season. The Rays are long on pitching (including former Astro Charlie Morton) and defense. They are second in baseball in team ERA and runs allowed, but middle of the pack in runs scored and total bases. Notably, the Astros are fourth in ERA and runs allowed and in the top 10 in most offensive categories. Should be a good series.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.