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The Houston Astros, last year’s defending World Series champions, are in an unusual position halfway through the season with a 17-17 record. After enduring several injuries, including losing key players such as Jose Altuve and Lance McCullers Jr. in Spring Training, the Astros are being put to the test. However, with the return of some of their star players and a lineup that has shown flashes of brilliance, the team remains hopeful.

Despite some struggles offensively, Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez have carried the team on their shoulders. Meanwhile, the Astros’ right-handed hitters have posted a .627 OPS, making the team rely even more heavily on their left-handed bats. The good news is that the team is starting to get healthy, with McCormick and Brantley expected to be activated soon. Altuve is also getting closer to a rehab assignment.

One area where the team has struggled is in their starting rotation, with only two players from last season’s rotation remaining. While the team has had success in the past with a deep bullpen, that luxury no longer exists, and the team will likely be looking for starting pitching in the trade market.

Despite the challenges, the Astros remain confident that their young players can step up and help lead the team to the playoffs. As catcher Martín Maldonado said, “we have to keep playing the game.”

In conclusion, while being .500 halfway through the season may not be ideal for defending champions, the Astros remain hopeful and committed to turning things around. With a healthier lineup and the potential for reinforcements in the starting rotation, all hope is not lost for the Astros to make another deep playoff run. Stay tuned for more updates on how the team progresses throughout the rest of the season.