The Astros have struggled this summer to build a consistent offense. Here's a very simple idea they need to try - switch Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve in the batting order. Seriously.
Let's flip ABreg with Tuve
(c) Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle
Your top OBP guy (at .399) currently hits third and is the top base-stealer. Your new top home run hitter, Bregman, hit his 20th Friday night in the 3-0 whitewash of Detroit while batting second. Bregman took over the top spot in RBIs with 63. He's killing it right now even though the lead-off man, George Springer, is in a prolonged slump. Hit the nearly slump-proof Altuve in front of ABreg and you'll score more runs. I guarantee it.
Bregman's two-run shot in the first inning against former teammate Mike Fiers was all Dallas Keuchel and his bullpen needed to take the opener of the weekend series leading up to the All-Star Break.
Bregman scored again in the third when he, Altuve and Yuli Gurriel hit successive singles. The rest of the night was about protecting their lead, something the Astros failed to do in losing three of four to Oakland and letting them back into the AL West race.
With Seattle's loss to Colorado, the Astros have rebuilt a four-game lead in the division while Oakland is still battling on the West Coast as this goes to print.
Keuchel, has now pulled to 7-8 on the season and dipping his ERA to 3.75 after six innings of six-hit shutout ball. In the past month, the lefty has been 4-0 with a 2.17 ERA in six starts. His 1.26 WHIP is still a little high but he's given the Astros a very solid five-man rotation again.
Tony Sipp, Brad Peacock and Hector Rondon finished up the last three innings and each survived either a hit or a walk but avoided the meltdowns we've seen too much of lately.
Fiers did not pitch that badly and the 38,843 got to watch a quick game last just two hours and 44 minutes.
Gerrit Cole (9-2) will again look for his tenth win Saturday in a 3:10 pm Central afternoon contest for the Fox network. He'll square off against Michael Fulmer (3-8). Cole returned from the bereavement list on Friday with the Astros sending down veteran outfielder Jake Marisnick to AAA Fresno - just in time to wear jerseys celebrating tacos.
Cole and Justin Verlander will now have some familiar company on the American League All-Star pitching staff. Charlie Morton, the team's leading winner, was added to the squad on Friday to replace New York's Aroldis Chapman who will sit out due to injury. It will be the journeyman's first trip to the Midseason Classic. Tampa Bay lefty Blake Snell, another major snub, was added to the roster to replace Cleveland's Corey Kluber.
Houston ties a club mark with six All-Stars.
- Bob Hulsey