In order to proceed with Operation Back-to-Back, the Astros will be relying on Carlos Correa this October.
The Houston Astros have an 18-4 record since they lost two games in a row to fall into a tie for first place on August 18th. During that stretch, the Astros have scored 125 runs while allowing only 78 runs. After dropping to 25 games above .500, they now sit at a season-high 38 games above .500. With the Athletics record of 15-8 during that stretch, they have managed to stay 3.5 games behind the Astros.
With 16 games remaining for the Astros, their magic number to clinch the AL West is 13 after the Athletics lost last night. This is a celebration for Houston fans as the A’s don’t seem to do that often, especially against a team already with 100+ losses. With a 92-54 record, the Astros need to win ten games to match what they did in 1998. But as the Astros moto states, “Never Settle!” So why settle with only 102 wins?
With the opponents that they will face, beginning with the Diamondbacks tonight, they should have a chance to 10+ games to finish the season. The pressure will fall on the Athletics to try to catch the Astros. With a fragile pitching rotation, it’s to be seen how this team will handle the stress of trying to win the AL West. Some would say that the Athletics would have a chance to beat the Yankees in a one-game playoff.
What about Correa?
Not all is well in Houston though. There is something wrong with Carlos Correa. When he returned from the DL after missing 36 games with the sore back, he was expected to help jump-start the offense. Before his injury, Correa was batting .268 with an OPS of .832 with 13 homers and 49 RBI. Since his return on August 10th, Correa has batted .163 with one homer and 13 RBI in 28 games.
For the season, Correa’s batting average has dropped 29 points, and his OPS has dropped 104 points. This is lower than his career .277 batting average and .835 OPS. This is not the Correa that we are used to, but October is approaching, and the Astros needs a big bat in the middle of the lineup. Thanks to the surprise rise to super-stardom by Alex Bregman and the comeback story of Tyler White, the struggles of Correa has not been so obvious.
But they have been, especially when he has been the team’s cleanup hitter for most of the time. Correa has been dropped to fifth in the order until he can snap out of the funk. Via Chandler Rome, Correa says that the injury is affecting how he swings his bat. He is trying to unlearn bad habits, so maybe the day off yesterday will help him get back on track.
No matter how well Bregman, Jose Altuve, and George Springer hit, all eyes will be on Correa this October. This lineup can carry Correa during the regular season to a point, but every weakness is exposed in the playoffs. Correa has hit well in the playoffs, with a career batting average of .289 with seven homers and 18 RBI. His bat will be critical. He can’t maintain his career-high 23% strikeout rate into October via Baseball-Reference.