Five for Friday: Critical questions for the Astros


The Astros are in the home stretch of the 2017 season and with 6 weeks to go the path forward may be murkier rather than clearer. They hold a 12 game lead in the division with 41 games to go, which while it is not mathematically certain is mathematically likely to hold.

So, coming around the turn for the stretch run – here are five critical questions for the Astros to answer between now and the end of the season.

1. Will there be any more trades before the September 1 deadline?

And let’s face it. By any more trades, the real question is whether the Astros will make a big move for another starter. Jeff Luhnow called it highly unlikely at this point. Mr. Luhnow has rarely showed what he was really thinking when it has come to trades. If Lance McCullers Jr. looks like he won’t be coming back, does that change that answer?

2. Who will be playoff eligible?

Playoff eligibility is not as complex as it used to be. Instead of being on the 25 man roster on September 1, a player needs only to be on the 40-man roster on that date and then is declared for the 25-man on a playoff series by playoff series basis. At this point, the biggest reason for a 40 man shift would be either a trade or if someone on the DL is just not going to make it back and is shifted to the 60 day DL and replaced by someone they might consider along the way.

3. Will Carlos Correa (Will Harris) (Lance McCullers Jr.) come back as strong as ever?

Before injuries, all three of these players were performing at a high level (and yes the assumption is that LMJ was pitching hurt when he stumbled along before being put back on the DL). The Astros really need each of these players to boost the offense, bullpen and starting rotation respectively to challenge for the World Series title.

4. What will that playoff rotation look like?

Whether they bring in additional help or not, the most critical question facing the front office and A.J. Hinch is who will be the three or four men in the playoff rotation. Dallas Keuchel will be in it, if standing, but will LMJ return? Are Collin McHugh and Charlie Morton locks? If LMJ does not return is it Brad Peacock or Mike Fiers in the fourth spot?

5. What will the late-inning bullpen look like?

Ken Giles closes and Will Harris if healthy should be the eighth inning guy, but where does a faltering (at home) Luke Gregerson fit in? Has Francis Martes earned himself a spot late? What about Chris Devenski, who looks a lot more hittable since the All Star Game? Is Tyler Clippard possibly the answer in the seventh inning? Does Brad Peacock only work multiple inning situations or high leverage situations if he is not in the rotation? Is there a place for the “injured” Tony Sipp, Michael Feliz or the newly acquired Francisco Liriano?

Here’s your chance for answering essay questions:

  1. Are these the 5 most critical questions down the stretch?
  2. If not, what are the most critical questions in your opinion and why?
  3. What is your deepest fear? Biggest regret?
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140 comments on “Five for Friday: Critical questions for the Astros

    • Yeah – I still don’t understand why they sent Tyler White down instead of J.D.. I could get political and say they sent the “White” guy down – but for all I know J.D.s first name is Jefferson……

      Liked by 1 person

      • His name will not limit him, He looks lost at the plate, has terrible range at 3B and is a lousy base runner for such a young guy.
        It’s a small sample, but range has nothing to do with the small amount of games. He will not be an error machine, because he doesn’t get to a lot of grounders.

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      • They are sent down White and kept Davis in order to not use up one of Davis’ options. White was called up earlier in the year so his option this year has already been used, but Davis has not been sent down so they get to conserve an option on Davis by keeping him up the rest of the year. There is no doubt White is more deserving, but with such a large division lead I can see the reasoning, but not sure I agree with it.

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    • Good analogy op (and funny comment Dan ).

      Did you know Wallace is out of baseball now? Boy were we sold a bill of goods on him. I have a feeling Singleton is going to be joining him soon.

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      • I saw him multiple times at AAA put up multi-hit games for different organizations. He looked like a complete hitter. I don’t know why he couldn’t recognize pitches at the big league level, but the big difference was that in the minors he controlled the strike zone and at the major league level you could bounce it four feet in front of the plate and he’d at least offer a check swing.

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      • Part of it was because they kept trying to make him a power hitter instead of the high obp/avg guy he was in the minors

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    • Yeah, Tim and Billy C – sometimes it seems like Hinch is swayed by a few good games (how Centeno hit those couple HRs and the walk-off single) and does not see the whole picture on some of these part time guys? Of course then why didn’t he hold on to Tyler White after some of that HR bashing. Can’t figure it – but I would be giving Stassi a few ABs here.

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  1. In the past 13 games, here are the opposing starting pitchers.

    Holland – ERA 6.07, WAR -1.3 (We Lost) Astros Runs 5

    M. Gonzalez – ERA 4.44 WAR 1.3 (We Lost) Runs 1

    Rodon – ERA 4.00 WAR 1.1(We Lost) Runs 2

    Cole Hamels – ERA 2.50 WAR 3.48 (We Lost) Runs 4

    Ross – ERA 7.02 WAR -.7 (We Lost) Runs 3

    Cashner – ERA 3.31 WAR 3.6 (We Won) Runs 2

    Greinke (Need I say more) (We Lost) Runs 0

    Banda – ERA 7.32 WAR -.2 (We Won) Runs 9

    Walker – ERA 3.83 WAR 2.1 (We Won) Runs 9

    Corbin – ERA 4.25 WAR 1.6 (We Lost) Runs 0

    Manaea -ERA 4.58 WAR 1.2 (We Won) Runs 3

    Graveman – ERA 4.54 WAR 1.2 (We Won) Runs 3

    Cotton – ERA 5.63 WAR – 0.6 (We Lost) Runs 2

    We have faced some weak pitchers and failed to capitalize with runs. If in the playoffs, the other teams have to bring up AAA pitchers, we have a chance. OR we have to start hitting again.

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  2. Did anyone notice Verlander’s comments after beating the Daadgers yesterday? Did not sound like a guy who would turn down the chance to pitch for a contender.

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    • He’s a competitor who wants to pitch in the post season. This year. I’m not convinced a deal will not get done. I’m wavering somewhat. He’s no guarantee, and neither are the prospects we’d give up for him, but I do not want to lose Whitley. Seems we have to keep Fisher now. I’d have given him up. But if a deal can get done for less talent and more money, then I might be able to embrace it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, the key for me is to not trade Tucker or Whitley and the Tigers must pay more than the rest of this year. I am definitely open to acquiring Verlander at the right price, both in terms of money and prospects.

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  3. Watched MLB today. They are of the opinion that LMJ in good health is more important than Correa and is the number one issue for any contending teams. In fact their opinion is that LMJ is the ace because of his “stuff.”

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  4. MLB is full of “C”. My question is *when* are we going to absolutely KNOW McCullers is healthy (mentally AND physically) to take the ball every 5 days???? This club doesn’t have the “luxury” to keep coddling this kid until they make the playoffs, THEN find out the guy will be sitting those games out! Look…..I don’t want to give up prized prospects any more than the rest of you, but if there’s a chance in h*ll, we can really trade for Verlander why not DO IT? It’s not like the guy would be walking out of the door after the season is over, we would have him *2* MORE YEARS! I love Lance McCullers, but it will soon be the end of the regular season and I WANT TO BE IN THE MIX FOR THE LAST BALL GAME!! Sorry folks, but I’m near tears because I look at the rotation after Keuchel, and all I see are guys who are “maybe”. I’m outta here. See ya.

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  5. Before you totally despair Becky – remember that 58 of the Astros’ 76 wins (75%) are by pitchers not named Keuchel or McCullers.

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  6. I’m all in for a JV trade, like you Daveb7, only for a few minor prospects and, if necessary, a larger chunk of salary. Beyond that, Det can go fly a kite if they want more.

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