Peter Aiken

Houston Astros Bright Spots

At 4-8, the Astros are off to a sluggish start, but there is still reason for plenty of optimism in Houston

This is not the way the Houston Astros wanted to start their 2016 campaign, but here they are at 4-8 through their first 12 games of the season, last in the AL West and about to start a three-game set with the Texas Rangers on Tuesday in Arlington after the final game of their series with the Detroit Tigers. The offense isn't quite clicking and the pitching staff held a 4.97 ERA heading into Saturday's game against the Tigers. 

Ken Giles has struggled out of the gates, but turned in a good showing last night, allowing just one hit (not a home run) in his inning of work. Granted, it was the 7th inning; not necessarily the inning that the Astros brought him aboard to pitch, but still, there is reason for optimism moving forward. The first two outs of the inning were arguably the best pure hitter in baseball in Miguel Cabrera and a solid veteran in Victor Martinez. We'll see if getting those two outs do anything to help his confidence in the days ahead. 

Tyler White is still a beast, crushing his 4th homer of the season on Saturday, which ties him for 5th in the AL. His .395 batting average still ranks tops in the circuit while his 11 rbi are tied for second and just one behind reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson. The Astros couldn't have asked for a better start out of White. The pitching around the league will begin to catch up with him at some point, and if he isn't able to make the necessary adjustments, there is always top prospect A.J. Reed down in Fresno that could be ready to join the team in the next month or so. Reed is currently batting .265 with a .359 on-base percentage, 2 homers and 8 rbi. 

George Springer hit his second dinger of the season Saturday against Justin Verlander en route to a 3-for-4 outing that raised his batting average to .250. It was his third multi-hit game, and his first three-hit performance of the season. If Springer can get it going at the top of the order with Jose Altuve, the team will begin to be the force that we were all expecting at the outset of the year. 

On the downside, Evan Gattis has struggled in his return from injury thus far, recording just one hit in 8 at-bats, striking out 5 times in those opportunities. Gattis started off slow last year as well and still turned in a fine year, so it's still much too early to panic.

With how frustrating the Astros have been thus far, they still find themselves just 2.5 games back in the division and they have yet to play an AL West opponent. The season is still young, and there were little bits of optimism on display, even in the loss, that show that the Houston Astros could be back to their winning ways once again very soon. 

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