Some quick-hitting baseball thoughts as our prayers are still focused on the real cleanup and rebuild in Southeast Texas.
With the September call ups looming, the re-addition of several injured players and the addition of a starting pitcher to the mix, A.J. Hinch will have his hands full with lineup cards in September.
Further down the road, though, it’s clear the Hinch and Jeff Luhnow team will also be spending some overtime working its 25-man playoff roster. Here’s a quick look at how that could pan out come October.
- Rotation (4): Justin Verlander, Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., Charlie Morton.
- Bullpen (8): Ken Giles, Chris Devenski, Luke Gregerson, Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh, Will Harris, Tyler Clippard, Francisco Liriano.
- Catcher (2): Brian McCann, Evan Gattis.
- Infield (5): Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Marwin Gonzalez.
- Outfield (5): George Springer, Cameron Maybin, Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick
- DH (1): Carlos Beltran.
- Bubble guys: Derek Fisher, Colin Moran, Tony Sipp, Michael Feliz, Francis Martes, Joe Musgrove.
Question: Will the Astros dare leave off Liriano or Beltran? Can Moran play himself onto the playoff roster?
The bottleneck just got a bit more bottlenecked.
- A few years ago, I predicted a bottleneck of salaries and payroll later in the decade. The Justin Verlander acquisition just squeezed the bottleneck a little tighter. Yes, the Astros will have several players coming off the books in a year or two (notably Carlos Beltran, Francisco Liriano and even Cameron Maybin and Luke Gregerson). But what looked to be a clean(er) slate in 2018 and 2019 just a few months ago now shows the Astros will start 2018 with a guaranteed payroll of approximately $137 million before you factor in arbitration numbers for Dallas Keuchel, George Springer, Evan Gattis, Collin McHugh and others. And, yes, you can take off about $10 million the Tigers will pay the Astros for Verlander. Enjoy 2017, things could get a little dicey this winter!
In my estimation, some key players will be on the trade block in the next two winters (Springer?) and Luhnow will attempt to sign up some of those (Keuchel? Correa?) Thoughts?
Are the Astros the cream of the crop?
- I wrote a few days ago that Houston was no longer the obvious choice in the American League. Perhaps they still are not, but the Verlander Boost may change that shortly. Houston is on track to win 98 games, but FanGraphs still shows the Astros are the most likely team (by a slim margin) to win the AL Pennant and represent the league in the World Series (against the Dodgers). Of course, finishing the season with the best record in the AL is quite important since it would mean the World Series run would roll through Houston throughout the playoffs.
- There are some better with the numbers than I and, admittedly, I haven’t done a game-by-game analysis, but it’s fairly easy to predict the Astros will win 100 games and could surpass the organization’s best record from 1998 (102-60). You could say that 2-3 weeks ago.
Some quick questions:
- How many wins is the Verlander Boost worth?
- The Astros are currently on pace to win 98. What do they finish with?
- Are you concerned about payroll and keeping players in 2018? 2019?
- Who is most likely not to be in Houston in 2019?