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Houston Astros season update: Improvement after poor start

It was a less than ideal start to 2023 for the world champion Houston Astros, but they've caught fire in the month of May.

Call it a World Series hangover, but the Astros are now starting to turn the page. Their win against the Oakland Athletics on Friday night was their fifth in a row, which moved them to 25-19 on the year. 

This, however, still leaves them two games behind the Texas Rangers for first place in the American League West. 

The good news is that the Astros currently occupy one of the Wild Card spots, and that was without one of their best players having played this season.

Altuve return a welcome sight

Friday night was also big because it saw the return of Jose Altuve, the Houston Astros’ second baseman. 

Altuve was sidelined up until now after having broken his thumb back in March at the World Baseball Classic. Altuve didn’t exactly have the season debut he was hoping for, though, as he went hitless in four at-bats. 

Doing this against the worst team in baseball is certainly not a good first impression, but it is fair to give Altuve the benefit of the doubt given that he just returned. 

There is also the fact that Altuve is a career .307 hitter, so we should expect Altuve to find his groove very soon.

Without Altuve, the primary struggles for the Astros this season have been scoring runs consistently. Leading up to Friday night, the Astros had scored 191 runs across 43 games, an average of 4.45 runs per game. 

This is just 15th in the MLB, much lower than what the Astros would have expected even this early in the season. 

In addition to the lack of runs, the Astros are also batting just .246 as a team. This is 17th in the MLB, and also below average with the lineup Houston puts on the field every night.

Pitching remains elite

While the offense has had their struggles, the Astros’ pitching has been the best in the MLB. 

As a team, the Astros have an ERA of 3.31. They showcased their dominance in their Friday night win, as Brandon Bielak went five innings allowing just one earned run and striking out nine. 

Don’t let the fact that they were playing the Athletics fool you as Bielak has been elite all season, posting an ERA of 2.89. 

In fact, the majority of their regular starters have sub-four ERAs, and the starters as a whole have an ERA of under three and a half, further proving they can shut just about any offense down on any given night. 

Another strong area of the Astros so far this season is their bullpen. The relievers have an ERA of 3.07 as a collective group, which is third in the league, behind only the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees.

Astros futures

Now that Altuve has returned to the lineup, you can bet the Astros to win the World Series at odds of +625. 

You can also pick them to win the American League at odds of +320, to win the American League Central division at odds of -125 and to make the playoffs at odds of -350.

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