The time is coming for the Chicago White Sox to run circles around the best of the American League.
That’s not supposed to be for a few years, though.
For all of their top prospects, the White Sox have authored a woeful year at the major league level – their 44-68 record stands as the worst in the AL. And that’s after winning three straight games against the Astros – the best team in the American League. It’s safe to say that you can’t predict baseball.
For Houston, the series extended a frustrating second-half skid that has seen the once-dominant team lose ten of its last fourteen games – three straight losses match the Astros’ season high.
What’s going wrong? Basically everything. The Houston lineup has been depleted by injuries to key players like Carlos Correa, Evan Gattis, and George Springer (the latter rejoined the team this week). Meanwhile, the starting rotation has posted an unsightly 5.76 ERA since the All-Star Break, backed by a shaky 5.13 mark from the bullpen.
Each shortcoming was on display in Chicago. Consider game one, when the White Sox rocked Houston ace Dallas Keuchel for eight earned runs and ten hits in just four innings. In games two and three, the offense managed to score only three combined runs. The ‘Stros had a chance on Thursday night, only to see the bullpen blow a late lead and cough up the go-ahead run in extra innings.
There’s no good time for a losing streak, and this one in particular comes with extra scrutiny after Houston stood pat at the July 31 trade deadline. But remember this: In spite of it all, Houston holds a 13-game lead in their division, and is all but assured of a spot in the playoffs. With more than a month and a half of the season remaining, there’s plenty of time for the ‘Stros to rediscover their first-half form.
Lone Star Showdown Looms
The Astros ride into Arlington tonight for a three-game set against the Texas Rangers. Houston will use the series as a chance to re-establish some dominance against their division foes; meanwhile, Texas is fighting to hold onto a stake in the wild card race. Charlie Morton opposes Cole Hamels in game one this evening.
Ace August Addition?
Just because the non-waiver trading deadline has come and gone doesn’t mean the Astros can’t make a big upgrade via the waiver trading period. One big name that’s been discussed? Longtime Detroit ace Justin Verlander. There’s plenty standing in the way of a Verlander trade, though – not the least of which is the $56 million remaining on his contract after the 2017 season. Still, Houston is interested. And you never know when a deal can materialize. Watch this space.
First-Ever “Players Weekend” Approaches
From August 25-27, Major League Baseball is going to be a little more colorful. We mean that literally and figuratively. For three games towards the end of the month, all teams will wear brightly-colored uniforms adorned with each player’s choice of nickname. A few standouts from the Astros? Chris “Devo the Dragon” Devenski, Jake “Big Fudge” Marisnick, and Michael “Fuego” Feliz.