The Astros are 2nd in the AL West, at 55-49, 6 games back of the Rangers. They are 9th in the AL in runs scored per game, at 4.5, Jays are 3rd at 4.93. They are 2nd in runs allowed per game at 4.13. Jays are 3rd at 4.16.
I sent off some questions to Ryan Dunsmore, manager of The Crawfish Boxes, SB Nation's Astros blog and he was kind enough to answer back, even with the trade deadline coming down around us.
At the end of May the Astros were 21-29 since then they are 34-19. What caused the big turnaround?
The pitching staff finally clicked. Minus a Lance McCullers, no pitcher has been a shutdown starter for the Astros. But they have all been high floor kind of guys that will keep the Astros in games.
Since May 1, the Astros led the majors in team ERA (3.39) and bullpen ERA (2.46). Before the series against the Tigers, the Astros hadn't overtaxed their bullpen. That fact allowed everyone to be on cruise control in their pitching roles.
The Astros also had the good fortune of being one of the healthiest teams in the league. Of course, as of this past week, that is no longer the case. The Astros have had to deal with Luis Valbuena and Carlos Gomez having hamstring injuries. Marwin Gonzalez is seeing a hand speicalist and the has been down to one bench players for the past few games.
You guys have a former favourite prospect of the Jays, Jake Marisnick. How is he doing?
Marsinick has been a fan favorite since he became a regular in the major league. He has shown off all the tools that made his a top 100 prospect at one time with his speed and plus ability in the field. But the bat hasn't come around regularly for him to overtake Colby Rasmus or Carlos Gomez for regular playing time. This is saying something since both have struggled to hit over .200 this season.
Marisnick has proven himself as an excellent No. 4 outfielder for the Astros over the past two seasons. That appears to be his future unless the bat miraculously comes around.
While we are asking about old friends, I have way too much affection for Colby Rasmus. How is he doing? What do Astro fans think of him?
The Astros fans love Colby Rasmus. Fans have started chanting "Colby Jack" every time he comes to the plate. Fans fell in love with watching Rasmus during the playoffs in which he hit four home runs over 17 playoffs at-bats.
Rasmus is currently the highest-paid player on the Astros roster after accepting the qualifying offer from the Astros -- the first player to do so in MLB history. But has struggled mightily this season, batting .060 (3x50) over his last 15 games and .222 (69x311) this season.
Who is your favourite Astro to watch?
I'm sorry to go with the easy answer but it's Jose Altuve. There isn't a second that he is not the hardest worker every second on the field. He is one of the few remaining players from the pre-Jeff Luhnow era so I have a special attachment to him.
Any prospects that you expect to see the Astros call up for the stretch run?
Former Blue Jays draftee Joe Musgrove. He looks like the starter for game one against the Blue Jays with Doug Fister waiting for the birth of his child this week.
The Astros are 5 games back of the Rangers, but much closer in the Wild Card. What do you think of their chances to catch the Rangers, or are focusing on the wild card now?
Houston is now six games back of the Rangers. I think the Astros' best chances of making the playoffs are catching the Rangers. The Rangers pitching staff after Hamels is a huge question mark, I don't think Texas holds onto the AL West lead for the remainder of the season.
With Musgrove starting today, what do you think of the Happ trade all these years later?
I think the trade worked out for what the Astros were doing in 2012. Asher Wojciechowski didn't turn out to be anything. David Rollins was a Rule-5 pick last season by the Mariners. Carlos Perez was traded to the Angels for Hank Conger. I will be over the moon if Joe Musgrove turns out to be 3/4 of what he was in the minor leagues. Musgrove was in our top 5 prospect ranks and has pitched above that level in 2016.
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