Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
April 09, 2017

The off-season acquisitions of DH Carlos Beltran, catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Josh Reddick—added to a talented core of second baseman Jose Altuve, shortstop Carlos Correa, outfielder George Springer and others—created something of a consensus in analytical circles: The Astros might quietly boast the best lineup in baseball. Combine that lineup with a very deep bullpen, and Houston appeared to have an excellent chance to make a deep playoff run this season.

The X-factor was the rotation. Could 2015 AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel even come close to matching his form from two years ago? And could hugely gifted but oft-injured young righty Lance McCullers Jr. finally string together 30 starts in a season? Keuchel and McCullers, year to date: 27 IP, 25 K, 15 H, 4 BB, 1.67 ERA. Keuchel’s riding a completely unsustainable hit rate, and McCullers still need to hold up for six more months. But those hot starts have been impressive, and much-needed.

Add GM Jeff Luhnow’s newfound hunger to make impact deals and thus potentially further reinforce that rotation at the deadline, and the Astros could be legitimately terrifying this year.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers (4-3, plus-18)

1. Chicago Cubs (4-2, plus-9)

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