If the Houston Astros sputter, if fans in the Bayou City start displaying, "Wait 'till next year!" signs, if Drayton McLane throws the ultimate Hail Mary pass and begs Mike Scott, Nolan Ryan, and Jim Deshaies to come out of retirement, I think it'll be for one central reason.
Yes, Bud Norris is looking impressive, having shut down a good St. Louis Cardinals team in his first major league start. Yes, Roy Oswalt is having a tough time. Yes, Wandy Rodriguez looks like he could become the great lefty ace the Astros haven't had since Mike Hampton's first tour of duty.
But despite the flashes of brilliance, Houston's pitching needs help. Felipe Paulino was roughed up last night, lasting 4.1 innings, giving up nine hits, five runs. His ERA is 7.28 on the season, and he's now 2-6.
It makes you wonder if releasing Russ Ortiz was really a good idea. His ERA was lower than Paulino and Wesley Wright. Twelve of the Astros' 18 pitchers have ERA's above 3.50. Less than half of the Astros' pitchers have winning records, and a disturbing number of them are relief pitchers.
Larry Dierker, back when he was pitching, said one year, "Do you know one team I can't see? The Atlanta Braves [back before the Bobby Cox/Greg Maddux era]. They just don't have the depth. You know another team I can't see? Ours."
That's the way I feel about this team. Give it a year or two.
The Houston Astros lost to the San Francisco Giants 8-1 and are now 53-54 on the season.