ST. LOUIS (BaseballStL) – The Houston Astros (23-31) made the first overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft on Monday – as a reward for being the worst team in the league last year – but this year they looked poised to not repeat as the league’s biggest losers.
As of June 5, the Astros appear they will leave the National League on a solid note before departing for the American League next year. Despite only winning two of its previous ten games, the Astros sit 7.5 games out of the top spot in the National League Central which is a far cry from last year when they finished with a 56-106 record and sat 40 games out of the top spot.
This year, the 2012 Astros are a team that possesses the same ‘no-name’ mentality of the New York Mets, a team the St. Louis Cardinals (28-27) wish to forget about after being dominated over the weekend, and obtains the Cardinals’ biggest pitching nemesis – Bud Norris.
Should Cardinals fans be worried about this series? Heck yes. This team has already lost three straight series (albeit to tough NL East teams) and another series loss to the Astros might destroy the psyche of a Cards squad that has been depleted by injuries. Is it a must-win series? It is not a must-win, but you would definitely like to see the Cardinals play with more urgency then what was shown in New York last weekend.
Many say ‘the Cardinals have a great team on the DL.’ This is true for the offense, but the poor pitching is inexcusable. Even during Monday’s 5-4 victory, you could feel a sense of ‘uh oh, it is up to the bullpen.’ To its credit, the bullpen did keep the game in check -- although it still allowed three runs in three innings which caused for excessive nail-biting. It should be noted that in the four-game series against the Mets, the bullpen allowed seven runs in eleven innings pitched.