Today the focus will be on two topics critical to the team as they tumble towards the finish line of a tougher than expected divisional tussle with the Oakland A’s.
1) Standing pat
As has been observed here by Sandy and other commenters, it is pretty obvious that the Astros’ Front Office decided at the Waiver trade deadline of August 31st to stand pat. Looking at their situation this almost seems like the only option they really had. Please explain that Dan P……
- Starting pitching – In the playoffs the team needs a 4 man rotation. If they believe Charlie Morton is ready to go at the end of his 10 day DL, it does not matter that Lance McCullers may not come back or if he comes back he will not be in the rotation. Between Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Morton and Gerrit Cole they have an extremely strong 4 man rotation. If one of those four goes down, they probably have confidence they could use a Framber Valdez or perhaps a Josh James in that spot and be OK. Beyond that, they could cadge together a tandem start from Collin McHugh, Brad Peacock or perhaps even McCullers. It made no sense to pursue another starting pitcher.
- Relief pitching – The team made their big moves at the non-waiver deadline with picking up Ryan Pressly, and Roberto Osuna. The fact that they have used these pitchers 15 times and 13 times respectively shows they want them to be main players at the end of games along with Hector Rondon. Chris Devenski has returned and mixing him in with McHugh and Peacock gives the bullpen a lot of late-inning options and flexibility headed into the playoffs.
- Everyday lineup – Let the arguments begin. The catcher spot was one of the weaker spots, but the team went out and added Martin Maldonado and welcomed back Brian McCann from the DL. You don’t really need to do anything relative to 3B or DH with the way Bregman and Tyler White have played. Marwin Gonzalez and George Springer seem to be warming up a bit. Yuli Gurriel has slumped lately but is still a very consistent at bat especially with runners in scoring position. The two guys struggling the most in critical spots are Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, but what are you going to do about that. There were no 2B’s or SS’s available that will give you better than those two can give you even when they are slumping. With Jake Marisnick back from the DL, there might have been a spot for someone between a middle of the road Josh Reddick, Marisnick, Springer and Tony Kemp. But would it be better than you had?
- Everyday players who changed teams at the deadline. The main players who actually got through waivers and ended up with an acceptable trade included SS Adeiny Hechavarria and C Drew Buterea at positions that the Astros have no need. It included 1B/3B/DH Josh Donaldson and David Freese, who are again at positions that the Astros don’t have a need. It could be argued that 2015-2017 Josh Donaldson would find a fit in any lineup, but that JD has not appeared this season and after being traded he was immediately put on the DL by his new team, the Cleveland Indians. It could be argued that the Astros maybe should have had interest in OFs Andrew McCutchen or Curtis Granderson. But in reality – both of these players are average offensive players these days and are not as good defensively as the Astros have. They are players whose names promise more than they can provide.
So – from this writer’s standpoint, there was really not a player truly available that the Astros deeply needed to chase.
2) The Playoff Roster Considerations
Last year the Astros went with only 11 pitchers and 14 everyday players for the ALDS against the Red Sox. They left Collin McHugh off the roster while keeping Tyler White, who did not get an at bat, on the roster. They had 3 catchers with Juan Centeno behind Brian McCann and Evan Gattis and a bench that included White, Centeno, Carlos Beltran/Gattis (depending on who was DH’ing), Cameron Maybin and Derek Fisher. They used Verlander, Morton, Keuchel and Peacock as starters in the first round with McCullers in the bullpen.
In the second round, they added McHugh back in and moved White back out.
This time around how would they work a potential first round 11 pitcher / 14 everyday roster?
SPs (4) – Verlander, Cole, Keuchel, Morton
Every Days (9) – Gurriel, Altuve, Correa, Bregman, McCann, White, Springer, Reddick, Gonzalez
Bench – Tony Kemp, Evan Gattis, Martin Maldonado, Jake Marisnick, Max Stassi,
If they go to a second round would they sit Gattis and activate Sipp, Smith or Harris? Which one? And if McCullers is not ready to go, which one of the three would they activate for the first round? With Gattis on the roster would they consider him the third catcher and set Stassi aside instead?
There are a lot of options as they roll down the hill towards the end of the regular season.
So, what do you think of the “two for Tuesday”?