Dallas Keuchel
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Astros sliding, Blue Jays streaking and more

The Houston Astros were running away with the American League West back on Memorial Day weekend. They were one of the best stories in baseball, even if there were whispers about regression being right around the corner. After years of being absolutely terrible, many folks wanted to see Houston rise from the ashes and make a run at the postseason.

On June 11, the Astros are going in the wrong direction. Houston is still in first place of the AL West, but only 2.5 games ahead of the surprising Texas Rangers. The Astros have lost seven straight games, dropping their record to 34-27. Houston is still four games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels, 6.5 in front of the Seattle Mariners and 9.5 game clear of the Oakland Athletics. The question is whether the Astros can right the ship or if the train is about to derail at Minute Maid Park.

On the plus side, the power is there. Houston is absolutely mashing in its small ballpark, with Evan Gattis and Luis Valbuena each crushing 12 home runs to lead the team. Chris Carter has contributed with 11 while George Springer has eight bombs. The problem is nobody outside of Jose Altuve is hitting for any average. Last year’s batting champion is hitting .289, while Gattis is batting an ugly .226. Carter is hitting below the Mendoze Line at .199 while Valbuena is at a brutal .180. Regardless of power, this is a terrible lineup that ranks 29th in average and 25th in on-base percentage.

The pitching staff has been a bright spot, checking in ninth in team ERA at 3.67. Dallas Keuchel is leading thw way with an All-Star worthy season, sporting a 7-2 record with a 1.90 ERA. Keuchel is clearly one of the best pitchers in baseball, alongside names like Felix Hernandez and Sonny Gray in the division. Beyond Keuchel, it’s rough. Collin McHugh is the second starter and sitting at a 4.34 ERA despite a strong start. Scott Feldman has a 4.80 ERA while Roberto Hernandez is at a 5.18.

Unfortunately, everything outside of Altuve and Keuchel points to a team that is going to finish below .500.

Jays soaring

The Toronto Blue Jays looked all but cooked early in the season. After losing ace Marcus Stroman to a torn ACL in spring training, the rotation has been a mess. However, the offense ranks best in the major leagues by a mile. Toronto has 325 runs scored, while nobody else has even hit 280.

Playing the poor AL East, an eight-game winning streak has brought the Blue Jays to within three games of the division-leading New York Yankees. With the trio of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson, the offensive surge won’t be going anywhere. Donaldson is having an MVP-level season, hitting .317 with 17 homers and 44 RBI, leading the team in all categories.

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