I’ll admit, until yesterday morning when I was checking out the Padres’ record for a quick knock on their “keys to the game” feature on their telecasts, I had no idea that the Astros were sitting at an American League leading 18-7. They were riding a 10-game win streak — winners of 14 of their last 15 — until dropping to 18-8 on Monday night vs. the Rangers.

Holding leads had been crucial to their success, winning every game they’d led in until the streak snapped.

The primary reason they’ve been so good at holding opponents off has been the bullpen. Up until their win streak ended, Houston had the fifth-ranked bullpen in MLB, with a 2.13 ERA, holding opposing hitters to a .175 batting average.

Jose Altuve has been the Astros' best player during their surprise start to the season
Jose Altuve has been the Astros’ best player during their surprise start to the season

But their offense and starting pitching has been very solid in addition to the pen, carried by two studs on each side.

Staying with pitching, Dallas Keuchel has emerged as an early Cy Young candidate, sporting a 3-0 record through his first six starts, with an impressive 0.80 ERA. Colin McHugh has also been crucial to the rotation, going 4-0 though his first five starts despite a 3.41 ERA (still a lot prettier than it looks when you compare it to Keuchel’s).

Jose Altuve is batting .360, and thanks to a streak of nine consecutive multiple hit games, already has 40 hits and 19 RBI on the young season. But it hasn’t been all Altuve’s heroics that have the Astros sitting atop the American League. Three Astros are hitting over .300, while EIGHT of them have hit three or more homers — including two (Valbuena/Gattis) with six dingers.

From the looks of things, Houston’s success is not just a flash in the pan. This team appears to have what it takes to compete all season, and maybe even still be standing come October. Sleeping on these Astros would be a big mistake, especially considering how promising their future is in future seasons. The Astros are good. Get used to seeing them around.

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