Luhnow: It's too early not to be optimistic

Luhnow: It's too early not to be optimistic

ARLINGTON -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow admitted on Wednesday that his team's record isn't where it should be, but he said it's early enough in the season to expect better play across the board going forward. Houston began play on Wednesday with a 5-9 record, which was one game ahead of the Twins for the worst in the American League. Houston ended Wednesday still ahead of Minnesota -- which lost to Milwaukee -- but at 5-10 following a 2-1 loss to Texas.

"There's not one obvious solution," Luhnow said. "Our pitching hasn't been as good as we'd hoped. Our timely hitting hasn't been there. There's enough bright spots and enough good players that I'm optimistic we're still going to have a very productive summer."

The Astros had only five quality starts through their first 14 games, leaving the starters with a 4.97 ERA that ranked 12th in the AL. Houston had one of the best rotations in the game last season and signed Doug Fister in the offseason to add depth, but Lance McCullers has yet to pitch because of soreness in his shoulder.

"We've only been through the rotation three times, so I think it's premature to make any changes," Luhnow said. "Certainly, getting Lance back would be a big addition, not just because of what Lance is capable of doing but also, it changes the look of our rotation."

After lefty Dallas Keuchel, the Astros have four right-handers who don't throw more than 90 mph, for the most part, in Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers, Scott Feldman and Fister. McCullers, who can hit the upper 90s, would bring a different look.

"It makes it a little easier on the competition when they have to sort of get used to one speed," Luhnow said. "Lance will mix that up a little bit, but I think everybody is here for a reason, and they'll all get back to their ways of winning and we'll be fine."

When it comes to offense, Luhnow takes solace in the fact that outfielder George Springer has begun to swing a hot bat. The Astros are among the AL leaders in home runs and runs scored, but they've struggled to score runs late in games and have only one come-from-behind win. Hitting with runners in scoring position has been an ongoing issue.

"You're never going to have everybody clicking at the same time, but I think it's a matter of mixing and matching, and what we need is, whichever guys or two is hot that night, they need to deliver at a point in the game that helps us win," Luhnow said. "We scored a lot of runs early in the game, but what we haven't been able to do is score in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning, which was the hallmark of our run in May of last year.

"We scored a lot of [late] runs, and we haven't been able to replicate that this year. It's easy to talk about, hard to do. I do think there's enough offensive firepower in our lineup and on our bench we should be able to win, even when our starters don't get through five innings."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.