Houston Matters

What the Astros need to catch the Rangers in the second half

Jeff Balke of the Bleav in Astros podcast says the club could use another pitcher and bat for the second half. But mostly the team just needs to get healthy.


Yordan Alvarez swings a bat
David J. Phillip/AP
Injuries to key players like Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve have contributed to the Astros sitting in second place at the All-Star break.


To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="https://embed.hpm.io/456412/456440" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>

At the All-Star break, the Houston Astros find themselves just two games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West. While it may seem a disappointing result for the defending World Series champions, a little context demonstrates how impressive the first half has been.

Consider just some of the injuries key Astros have sustained: Slugger Yordan Alvarez injured his right oblique on June 8. Second baseman Jose Altuve has been hurt most of the year.

And only one member of the Astros’ rotation last year has been a mainstay this year — All-Star Framber Valdez. The Astros have had to rely on a number of call-ups to replace Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia, both out for the year. And Jose Urquidy is hurt, too, though he could return soon. And while Cristian Javier has remained healthy and pitched well in his first 14 starts, he’s labored through his last three, giving up 18 runs.

While Javier and other Astros get a much-needed break, manager Dusty Baker, outfielder Kyle Tucker, and Valdez are at the All-Star game (though Baker says Valdez will not pitch in the game tomorrow night on two days' rest. That word follows comments from Valdez that he wasn't interested in playing in the game if he didn't start it).

In the audio above, we discuss these developments with Jefff Balke, co-host of the Bleav in Astros podcast and a writer for Houston Press.

We also discuss the Astros selecting Houstonian Brice Matthews in the first round of the MLB Draft on Sunday. The Astros selected the Atascocita High School alum with the 28th overall pick. Matthews, 21, has been playing shortstop at the University of Nebraska. In 54 games this past season, he hit .359 with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. He's Nebraska's first ever 20-20 player.

Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

More Information