Astros’ Carlos Correa Earns AL Player of the Month
ARLINGTON – The best team in baseball now can say it has the hottest hitter and pitcher.
On Friday, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and starter Lance McCullers were honored as the American League hitter and pitcher for the month of May.
This is the first time the Astros have had the player of the month and pitcher of the month at the same time. The last time it happened in the AL was with Boston’s David Ortiz and Jon Lester in 2010.
In 26 games, Correa hit .386, with eight doubles, seven homers, 26 RBIs and a 1.130 OPS for the month. He led the league in batting average and RBIs, and he was third in on-base percentage and tied for sixth in slugging percentage. He had multiple hits in 14 of his 26 games, including five consecutive games from May 25-29, which came after being out sick for two games against the Detroit Tigers.
McCullers went 4-0 with a 0.99 ERA in May. He had 37 strikeouts in 361?3 innings and had a .164 opponent batting average. He threw 22 consecutive scoreless innings (251?3 without an earned run) from May 6-23, which was the longest streak by an Astros pitcher since Roy Oswalt’s 32 scoreless innings in 2008.
Correa and McCullers rebounded dramatically from a sluggish first month of the season.
Correa endured an 0-for-19 slump and batted .233 with six extra-base hits in April. McCullers compiled a 4.34 ERA, surrendering earned runs in almost half of the 29 innings he pitched.
Correa credits his improved swing path for hitting the ball more to all fields. His spray chart looks like buckshot target practice. Of his 39 hits in May, he drove 22 up the middle or away.
McCullers has utilized his changeup more this season, but the righthander said he has found a better rhythm for training and recovering in the wake of the elbow strain that truncated his 2016 season. He minimized the significance of two April starts in which he surrendered five runs in Oakland and in Cleveland, which drummed up criticism he had trouble pitching on the road.
“You start getting a better feel for what you do or what you don’t want to do, how you recover, how you don’t recover,” McCullers said. “It’s not a perfect science when you’re coming off a season when you’re injured a lot. … You’re trying to figure out what’s the best formula.”
The last Astros pitcher to go at least four games with no earned runs and at least five innings pitched was Nolan Ryan in 1984.
McCullers followed up a stellar run by Dallas Keuchel, who received AL Pitcher of the Month honors for April.
Although no Astros in the majors shared the same monthly hitting and pitching awards, Correa and McCullers received them in May 2013 while playing for Class A Quad Cities.
Both players emphasized the exceptional team play that propelled the Astros’ lead in the West Division standings to double-digit games.
“The team had a special month,” McCullers said. “Even when we had our backs up against the wall in Cleveland, we responded really well to finish that homestand up.”
Correa, as usual, adhered to humility and deferred praise to the deep lineup he cleans up. The Astros went 22-7 in May and outscored opponents by 67 runs.
“One through nine, bro,” Correa said.
View Carlos Correa