Astros need healthy Berkman and Oswalt
The Astros’ poor start in April coincided with Lance Berkman‘s slow start at the plate, and since Berkman went on the disabled list they have lost seven of 10 games. The good news is Berkman could return by Friday, giving the lineup a much-needed boost. They’re just not the same team without Puma.
Of course, if Berkman returns and Roy Oswalt is on the shelf, that’s bad news. Oswalt didn’t feel as good as he wanted to Monday after throwing in the outfield and his start Saturday is still up in the air. Remember when the Astros made their surge late last season? Oswalt led the way with a tremendous second half.
The bottom line is Oswalt is their best pitcher and Berkman is their best hitter and both need to be healthy for them to have any kind of shot. The Astros are back at .500, and they really can’t afford to fiddle around and fall back under the break-even mark. They were four games under .500 in mid-August in 2004 when they took off and won 36 of their last 46 games.
This team isn’t good enough to go on that kind of streak, so they need to start building now. They’re coming off back-to-back wins over 12-games winners in Adam Wainwright and Matt Cain in games started by Bud Norris and Mike Hampton. Just think of the possibilities of Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez are healthy.
At 53-53, the Astros would need to go 35-21 the rest of the way to win 88 games, which may be enough to win the division. The first-place Cubs need to go 32-26 to reach 88 wins. It’s certainly doable, but not without a healthy Oswalt and Berkman.