So, the Astros throw their first no-no in over a decade, and their first solo no-no since the late Darryl Kile in 1993. Of course the Dodgers have been no-hit by the Astros before, on September 26, 1981 when Nolan Ryan threw his 5th career no hitter. So why is that significant to the Dodgers?
Well the struggling team from Los Angeles hopes a lot. You see when Nolan threw the no hitter, it also coincided with the first of two Dodgers titles in the 80’s.
The last team the Astros threw a no-no against? The New York Yankees in 2003, who also made the World Series that year. Detecting a theme here?
But it also good news for the Astros, as new addition Mike Fiers was the one who tossed this one. Add him to Colin McHugh, who was a tough luck 1-0 loser in his last start, Scott Kazmir who has been as expected since joining the Astros and Dallas Keuchel, the unquestioned ace of the staff and all of a sudden this pitching staff is pretty formidable when the post-season comes around.
But the Astros aren’t all pitching. With all-star and defending batting champ Jose Altuve rounding into form, rookie call-up and front runner for AL ROY honors Carlos Correa doing his thing, Evan Gattis finally hitting like he can the line-up can be deadly. Add in the eventual return of possibly their most dangerous hitter George Springer, and I am not so sure you can give the AL to the Blue Jays or Royals just yet.
The only issue I see for this Astros team, besides youth and inexperience, is that as good as Luke Gregerson has been this season, he is not a shut-down closer. If they had an arm like Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen or Greg Holland.
But right now, this is a team playing with house money. Nobody expected them to be where they are right now, not even ownership. But the fact that they are ahead enough of schedule that they can be in the playoff conversation is a huge bonus for this squad. So the Astros get the advantage of playing very relaxed baseball right now. Sadly that is a luxury the Dodgers do not have.
With a payroll approaching the GNP of a small country, there is no excuse for this team not to be rolling. They have two of the best starters in the game, a closer who is lights out, one of the best clutch hitting 1st basemen in the game, and a bevy of youth and experience all throughout the line-up.
So why is this team struggling? Well besides the fact that the bullpen has been a shell of what it should be, some of this youth (and experience) is really struggling right now. When your best pitcher is on the hill with a 4-1 lead in the 7th inning, there is no excuse for losing that game. Yet, the Dodgers did just that against the A’s this past week.
There is no shame in being no-hit. No team is going to win 162 games, hell no team has ever won more than 116 games in a season, so losses will happen. The key is being able to bounce back from those losses and move forward. So now the question is, can they bounce back from being no-hit, only time will tell.