H-Town Sports

Houston Sports Blog - Real sports cities have TWO Conference USA teams

Friday, June 23, 2006

Crucial Month Begins for the Astros

Tonight the Astros begin a three game series with the Chicago White Sox in a rematch of the 2005 World Series. If the Astros have any real hopes of reaching the postseason again in 2006, they had better pick up their level of play over the next thirty days because their schedule becomes much more difficult during that span. According to ESPN's Relative Power Index Standings, the Astros have the the weakest Strength of Schedule in MLB through their first 73 games. They have also been outscored by twenty runs, despite managing to put together a 37-36 record. Starting with the recent three-game stint against the Twins, in which the Astros lost two out of three games, the Astros face the following schedule:

3 v. Twins, 3 at White Sox, 3 at Detroit, 3 at Texas, 3 v. Cubs, 4 v. St. Louis, ALL-STAR BREAK, 4 at Florida, 3 at Cubs, 3 at Mets, 3 v. Cincinnati

The Tigers are 1st in the MLB RPI standings, the White Sox are 2nd, the Rangers are 6th, the Mets are 7th, Twins are 9th, the Cardinals are 10th and the Reds are 11th, and the Marlins have won 20 of their last 27 games. In terms of starting pitchers' ERA, the Tigers are 1st, the Mets are 2nd, the White Sox are 7th, the Marlins are 8th and the Reds are 9th.

Over that same 30-day stretch, the Cardinals will face the following schedule:
3 at Tigers, 3 v. Indians, 3 v. Royals, 3 at Atlanta, 4 at Houston, 3 v. Dodgers and 3 v. Atlanta

The Reds will face the following schedule:
3 at Indians, 3 v. Royals, 3 v. Indians, 3 at Milwaukee, 4 at Atlanta, 4 v. Rockies and 3 v. Mets

The Astros do have the benefit of the Rocket's return to the rotation, but their offense continues to struggle (14th in NL in OPS) and their road record is again abysmal (12-18). When this stretch ends, there will only be 57 games remaining in the season, which is not a whole lot of time to make up a significant distance in the standings. The Astros are now about as full-strength as they can hope to be, with Clemens back from "retirement" and Oswalt off of the DL. We are going to learn a lot about this team over the next thirty days, beginning tonight in Chicago against undefeated Jose Contreras.


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