Holy crap, the regular season starts today.
Going to try something new this season. Instead of doing a preview/review for every series, I’m going to zoom out a bit and cover a week at a time. While that may introduce some errors as pitching matchups can change, I’m hoping that I’ll have some time for a little deeper dive on analysis and commentary. Because I know y’all are dying for that.
A FINAL-BUT-NOT-REALLY-FINAL LOOK BACK AT 2017
It’s been nearly five months since the Astros won the World Series and I realize that I still haven’t really come to terms with it. Just seeing that string of italicized words in the previous sentence, without need of further context or qualification, is in several ways gobsmackingly foreign to me.
Of course, I watched the damn thing happen on live TV (and numerous times afterward, as recently as a couple days ago), I watched the parade on TV, I have watched every interview and read every article about it, I own clothing and other memorabilia that says it happened, and I have a picture of me standing close enough to breathe on the fucking trophy in the Texas Capitol. Still, I find that I suffer from some cognitive dissonance about the whole thing.
Maybe part of it is because the part of me that thought it would never happen was larger than I thought. One comparison I can make is that my grandmother lived to be almost 98 and, irrational though it may be, I subconsciously assumed that she would live forever. When she did pass away while I was in college there was a bizarre “is this real life?” feeling that didn’t pass for several months. So even though the Astros demonstrated the ability for late-inning comebacks in the 2017 regular season, even though they staved off a Game 5 with Boston, even though they got off the mat against the Yankees, in hindsight part of me was still expecting them to fail as they had in every previous postseason. (At the time, though, after the ALCS I never wrote them off.)
Maybe part of it is because I was so nervous throughout the entire postseason that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. I did enjoy it (if you know what I mean), but maybe it was only relative to the stress and fear of failure.
One thing is for sure, though: 2017 was a DNA-changing season for the Astros as an organization and for me as a fan.
A BRIEF LOOK AHEAD TO 2018
There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said. On paper you’d have a hard time building a better team to make a run at defending a title. The Angels figure to be the Astros’ main competition within the division, and the Indians, Yankees, and Red Sox all pose serious threats to the pennant.
All I will say is that if there’s one thing I’d really love to see in 2018, it’s better consistency (and fewer injuries) from the rotation.
ASTROS @ RANGERS – March 29 – April 1, 2018
Schedule and pitching probables
Thursday, March 29, 2:35pm CDT
Justin Verlander (2017: 15-8, 3.36) vs. Cole Hamels (2017: 11-6, 4.20)
Friday, March 30, 7:05pm CDT
Dallas Keuchel (2017: 14-5, 2.90) vs. Doug Fister (2017: 5-9, 4.88)
Saturday, March 31, 3:05pm CDT
Lance McCullers Jr. (2017: 7-4, 4.25) vs. Matt Moore (2017: 6-15, 5.52)
Sunday, April 1, 2:05pm CDT
Gerrit Cole (2017: 12-12, 4.26) vs. Mike Minor (2017: 6-6, 2.55)
Is the Rangers’ offer of an Astros home series in Arlington still good? If so, I’ve changed my mind. Let’s take them up on it for this series. Hang the banner, distribute the World Series rings, do all that jazz in their house.
Fun fact: to the extent that spring training records mean anything, there was not a worse spring training team than the Rangers, who turned in a paltry 8-22 Cactus League record and tied for the third-most runs allowed out of all MLB teams.
Spring training ERAs for the Astros pitchers listed above, respectively: 1.64, 2.35, 1.29, 2.14
Spring training ERAs for the Rangers pitchers listed above, respectively: 4.15, 5.84, 9.00, 6.17
Astros – Yuli Gurriel was not placed on the DL to begin the season and will be eligible to return on Tuesday following his suspension. Those who are on the DL (Hoyt, Rodgers, Gustave) probably weren’t going to be on the opening day roster anyway.
Rangers – Martin Perez is recovering from an elbow injury sustained on his ranch and is slated to pitch next weekend. Tim Lincecum won’t be ready to go until May after not pitching at all last season. Tony Barnette also starts the year on the DL.