It certainly shouldn’t take a math major to tell the Astros that winning games more than losing them from here on out raises the likelihood that their World Series repeat bid lives on.
But losing 11 September games out of 19, including Friday’s opener against the Kansas City Royals in Houston’s last home series of the season, has brought some uneasy times in Crush City, especially with two American League West rivals competing for the same division title that Houston has won in the last five full 162-game seasons.
Entering Friday’s start of Houston’s final home series of the season, the Astros held a half-game lead over the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers for the AL West title and a likely bye into the Division Series.
What may haunt Houston, though, is that the ‘Stros have one less game scheduled for the season than Seattle and Texas, who, with nine games left for each club, provides this interesting twist – the M’s and the Rangers face off with each other six of those contests.
And it appears the Rangers are the clubhouse leader heading into Saturday. With Houston’s loss and Texas defeating Seattle on Friday, the team up north holds a half-game lead for the AL West crown over the Astros and a one-game advantage on the Mariners.
Despite the loss, Houston is in playoff position, holding a half-game advantage over the M’s for the final AL wild-card spot and just a game behind Toronto for the No. 5 seed.
Keep in mind, Houston travels to Seattle after its series with Kansas City for three relatively-late night games in the Pacific Northwest.
Sleepless about Seattle indeed, Astros fans.
Any leap-frogging by either Seattle or Texas by the end of the season would put Houston dangerously close to not making the postseason at all, which would be the first time that happens since 2016. It would mark a fall from grace for an Astros franchise that made the World Series four times in that span.
Astros’ playoff probability
Before Friday’s games, ESPN Analytics gave Houston a 92% chance of making the postseason. The Astros hold the season tiebreaker over the Rangers but don’t hold it over the Mariners.
Houston also holds a 56% chance to clinch the division and a 36% probability of a wild-card spot.
The 92% and 56% are remarkable decreases from Sept. 11’s calculations, when the ‘Stros had a 99% chance of making the postseason and an 84% chance of clinching the AL West.
Losing six of 10 games since then will do that.
Come Saturday morning, though, look for those odds to swing.
Remaining Astros schedule
Record, as of Friday night: 85-69
- Saturday: vs. Kansas City, 6:10 p.m.
- Sunday: vs. Kansas City, 1:10 p.m.*
- Monday, Sept. 25: at Seattle, 8:40 p.m.
- Tuesday, Sept. 26: at Seattle, 9:05 p.m.
- Wednesday, Sept. 27: at Seattle, 8:40 p.m.
- Friday, Sept. 29: at Arizona, 8:40 p.m.
- Saturday, Sept. 30: at Arizona, 7:10 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 1: at Arizona, 2:10 p.m.+
All times are CT.
* – denotes final Astros home game of 2023 regular season
+ – denotes final Astros game of 2023 regular season