The Astros are first in the AL West, 4 games up on the Angels. At 21-13 they are tied with the Royals for the best record in the American League. They are 8th in the league in runs scored per game, at 4.26 (we are tops at 5.29). Pitching wise, they are 5th best at 3.85 runs per game (we are 4th from the bottom at 4.74).
Minute Maid Park is a very cool place. I took a tour of it a few years ago. Unfortunately, the Astros weren't in town when I was there. I did see them play in the Astrodome many years ago, back when the Killer Bs were playing. The funny part was, when my wife's sister phoned for tickets, the person on the phone said you had to pick up the tickets 30 minutes "P-R-I-O-R" spelling out the word prior. She said prior. He said 'I don't know what that means'. She said 'you don't know what 30 minutes prior to the game means?'. 'Yes'. Oh well.
I sent off some questions to Ryan Dunsmore of the Crawfish Boxes, SB Nations Houston Astros site. Yum, crawfish. One of my favorite things about going to the southern states is getting a meal of crawfish (or crayfish). It is one of those great meals that you burn more calories getting to the meal, than you gain from eating it.
Jake Marisnick was one of my favourite prospects, I was sad when they traded him. How is he doing there? What do you think of him?
Marisnick has really put it together this season. He and Jose Altuve were the catalyst for the Astros 10-game winning streak earlier this season. We knew had the talent in the field, but we're sure he could stay in the lineup with the bat. Marisnick batted .379 with two home runs, 10 RBI and eight stolen bases.
I love watching Marisnick in the field, he moves so smoothly to the ball. It makes me wonder why it took so long for the Astros to trade Dexter Fowler to get Marisnick in center.
While on the subject of former Jays, can you let us know what's happened with the prospects we shipped you in the J.A. Happ trade? Joseph Musgrove, David Rollins, Ben Francisco, Carlos Perez, Asher Wojciechowski and Kevin Comer. Have any of them turned into something or are there hopes for any of them?
Joseph Musgrove is in High-A Lancaster with an ERA under one in five appearances. David Rollins was selected in the Rule-5 draft this offseason by the Mariners. He looked to be making the team out of Spring Training but he was popped for PEDs. He's on the shelf for 80 games.
Ben Francisco hasn't really caught on with anyone, bouncing around with the Rays, Indians, Yankees and Atlantic League's Lancaster Barnstormers over the past few seasons. Kevin Comer is repeating at the Astros Low-A affiliate in Quad Cities.
Carlos Perez was traded this offseason to the Angels and was called up recently. He hit a walk off home run in his first game.
Wojciechowski started the 2015 season in the Astros starting rotation, but was sent down shortly after that. He hasn't found his way in the major as starter - giving up 13 runs in 12 inning.
I don't know much about your manager A.J. Hinch. Can you give us a scouting report? Strengths and weaknesses?
A.J. Hinch is polar opposite of the previous manager Bo Porter. He is a very laid back guy that allows his players to show their personality. Hinch and Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow appear to be on the same page.
I must admit I haven't seen enough of him as a manager to give a full report, but he appears unafraid to change his batting order on daily basis.
Who is your favourite Astro to watch?
Jose Altuve for sure. His energy and passion for the game is infectious. George Springer comes in a close second, who doesn't love a guy who can hit home runs and steal bases?
The Astros are off to a great start and have a 4 game lead the AL West. Are Astros' fans optimistic about the chances of playoffs? Who do you see as the team that could make a run at them?
Houston fans, be it Astros, Texans or Rockets fans, are a traumatized bunch. I think fans are coming around but they'll wait to see if they make the playoffs before popping bottles.
Angels and Mariners are still the class of this division, so I won't be surprised if either make a run. The Astros have put themselves in the best position possible to be around when the division shakes out.
Can we have a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers we are likely to see?
The Astros will send out two veterans, Roberto Hernandez and Scott Feldman, that have one job - get a quality start. Sure that's the goal of every pitcher, but it feels like the Astros are playing with house money each time they get from these two pitchers.
Hernandez is coming off his best of season, allowing just 2 runs over 7 ⅔ innings against the Angels on May 8 - his breaking stuff showed a little extra life during the start.
Feldman has been Jekyll and Hyde on the mound in his last two starts, allowing six runs over this to the Rangers and just three runs over seven against the Angels.
On the other side of the coin, Collin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel have been the backbone for the new found success.
The beard has been lights out this season, giving up just 8 earned runs in 51 ⅔ innings. McHugh just had an 11-game win streak broken after giving up 7 runs to the Giants (3 earned). McHugh's curveball is one of the most devastating in baseball.
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