Is Houston really the shoe in to win this dangerous division?
Last year there was no competition, no fight for first, or meaningful last games. This year, things are going to be a little different. Although occasionally the Astros have been second in their division, falling behind the Los Angeles Angels before they fell off, and then for a little bit in early June to the Seattle Mariners. Despite this, there was never really any doubt that they were going to come back and win the division. They are the reigning World Series champs after all. They have the best starting rotation in the MLB, and an MVP threat in Jose Altuve. Things were just nice and comfortable for Houston. But something not many people realized was that while Houston beat up on the lesser teams of the league, the playoff teams gave them a scare. Remembered were the sweeps of the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox to say a few, but forgotten were the series losses to teams like the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks.
But the Mariners sure did take notice, and so did the Oakland Athletics. Although it seemed like that wouldn't matter. The Mariners lost eight of their last eleven games before the All Star break, and their surprise season seemed as if it would come crashing down. The Athletics had lost just six of their last twenty seven games, but it's not like they were a serious threat, they had fought their way into third in the division. And it seemed like that would be their ceiling.
But don't ignore their fight. The Athletics kept up their incredible streak, and well, the Mariners kept chugging along. And the Astros? Well quite the contrary. Since the All Star break they are a lowly 9-10. It's a good thing that they built up their big lead, but if they keep this pace up, have fun fighting for a Wild Card spot. Maybe it's because Jose Altuve is on the DL, but don't think that they are the only team with a key player injured. No matter how the season ends though, it certainly won't be as easy as last year.