Astros 2018: Two for Tuesday on a Wednesday


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

RPs (11) – Rondon, Osuna, Pressly, Devenski, McHugh, Peacock and…McCullers? This would leave Tony Sipp, Joe Smith and Will Harris on the outside looking in….

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”?

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75 comments on “Astros 2018: Two for Tuesday on a Wednesday

  1. In the first paragraph, they “tumble towards the finish line” and at the end, they “roll down the hill towards the end.” Word-choice-wise, are you trying to tell us something?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Larry –
    If Devo does not pitch any better than he did last night he could be in real danger to miss the playoff roster. And right now we would rather have Framber than Sipp as a left hander out of the bullpen – though it is a tiny sample.

    Diane –
    I always picture the last frantic days of the season as a Soap Box Derby as teams fly down the hill hoping to get across the line first in any way possible. The Astros I think have a Magic Number of 20 for the division. That needs to be their focus and they need to roll, tumble, scratch and claw their way there…..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t have a problem with the roster. I believe its as as good or better than the rest with Boston being the exception.
    But if Hinch doesn’t tighten up the lineup they may end up a wildcard and possibly not go any further than the one game playoff.
    These other teams know who’s struggling.
    Springer gets on and Altuve strikes out or hits into a double play. Then Bregman is forced to hit a home run with Correa batting behind him. Put the reliable ones together so you at least have a good chance to get something going every time they come around.
    And please, White as DH for the rest of the year. The

    Liked by 3 people

    • The Tennis serve(Ace), the hole in one (golf), Pull out a poker hand (Royal Flush), the slam dunk (basketball), the hail Mary for a TD (football), Archery/darts (bulls eye), boxing (the KO), Hockey (goal; he shoots, he scores!), Bowling (strike), 4 man bobsled, ski jump (no actual jumping, only simulated).

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  4. I’m thinking like others here. As for pitching leave Devinski, Sipp, Harris off the roster. Add Framber or Josh James or maybe both. I would question mark Stassi since we have 2 catchers and a 3rd (Gattis) if needed.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. On the offensive side, I think it’s 13 guys with Stassi being odd man out unless we see a new injury. Maldonaldo has taken his job. Based on what White is doing, Gattis likely becomes mostly a PH and emergency catcher. Kemp and Jake are the other two guys. I guess a real longshot could still be Tuckers bat, with Gattis being left behind. But then we’d still need a third catching option.

    I see us going with 12 pitchers and Sipp, James, Valdez, Devenski, Harris, Smith all on the fence for 2 jobs. It will come down to who is really performing the best at the end of the month. I like the way Valdez is getting left and right handed hitters out right now. I like that James can probably throw 102 in a post season game out of the pen. The Red Sox will not see Framber this weekend. I wonder if that’s by design? And I wonder if James will start on Saturday, or remain hidden from the Sox?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I find it interesting they kept an extra offensive guy for the short series last season (11 pitchers/14 every days) and then never used Tyler White. Maybe they will go with the 12/13 split from the get-go especially if it includes a bullpen lefty specialist like Framber…

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    • We have to go with 14 or we have no pinch runners. Stassi is out for that reason alone. Fisher, or some other speed guy will be added as a PR option. Last year’s playoffs proved that you need speed in late innings (Fisher scoring on Begman’s single to win the game).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree standing pat was the right thing . A voice in my head told me they might go after Beltre at the July deadline, and I would have been OK with that. Other than that the options were pretty meh. We got spoiled last year: picking up a guy like Verlander at Aug 31 deadline was lightning in a bottle. Hinch will have a tough time picking a bullpen for the playoffs. Smith has pitched very well the last couple of months. He’s an old hand which has a lot to recommend it in the playoffs. I really doubt the kids like Valdez and James will get a shot at the playoff roster. Stassi is also a long shot for the playoffs, absent injury.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. SP – No available SP would have cracked our rotation. It is arguable that none would crack our top 7 options that we already had in- house.

    RP – Astros went with quality/ need over quantity. Pressly and Osuna (baggage aside) are both excellent. Our BP is the best in the majors and the stats prove it.

    Everyday – No option that would provide a measurable improvement.

    Bench – No real option here either. When Tyler stepped up his game it closed the hole on our only real need. He gives us a DH that can step in at first and give flexibility to the infield.

    When I look at all of the trades made this season I just can’t see any one player that I think would have been a difference maker. Standing pat was the best move IMO.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Here’s my 11 cents on the playoff roster. I too think they will keep the 11/14 mix.

    SP Verlander
    SP Keuchel
    SP Morton
    SP Cole
    RP Peacock
    RP Sipp
    RP Pressly
    RP McHugh
    RP McCullers
    RP Rondon
    RP Osuna

    SS Correa
    2B Altuve
    3B Bregman
    1B Gurriel

    CF/RF Springer
    RF Reddick
    LF Kemp
    LF Fisher
    CF/RF Marisnick

    C McCann
    C Maldanado

    1B/DH White
    C/DH Gattis
    IF/OF Gonzalez

    I don’t think Stassi makes the roster. Defense and arm prevails. McCann/ Maldonado will carry the load at catcher and Gattis can serve as emergency. I believe Gattis will make it over Stassi due to superior bat. I could see a case for leaving Gattis off and adding more speed, but he is a better PH option and can catch in an emergency. Carrying all of Stassi, Maldanado, McCann, Gattis and White leaves room for only 2 speed guys to use as pinch runners. Also, carrying both Stassi and Maldanado reduces ability to PH in late innings. Basically, if either gets on base you have to PR for them, burning two of your 6 reserves. That just won’t cut it in the playoffs, especially in NL parks.

    I only think that Fisher makes it because of his speed and playoff experience from last year. If Tucker comes back up and absolutely rakes I could see him getting the nod over Fisher. Otherwise thy will go with superior speed and playoff experience in Fisher.

    4 of the following pitchers will not make the cut – Devenski, Harris, Smith, McCullers, Valdez, Perez, Sipp. If McCullers can’t come back they will take Smith. That’s some quality arms missing the cut. It shows just how much better and deeper our staff is compared to 2017.

    Framber, James or Perez could shake thing up and make it more interesting if they produce down the stretch. Framber and Perez are lefties and James is pure fire. It will be fun to watch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I should clarify. Gonzalez will start in RF but can fill both IF and OF roles.

      Kemp, Marisnick and Fisher will be the only speed off of the bench. If Stassi makes it over Fisher then you better start timing pitchers to see who has the best wheels, as they will absolutely be required to PR in the playoffs.

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      • Marwin will start in left field. In the post season, there is no infield fill in role for him with the possible exception of Yuli at first, unless someone is injured. If the Astros go with 14 bats, then I’d certainly go with Tucker. He can also run and in spite of his stats, at least looks like he’s got an idea of what to do at the plate. Fisher does not.

        Liked by 1 person

    • One thing I’ll say about Framber. He’s got extraordinary movement on all his pitches. I look forward to him being in next years rotation.

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  9. Some thoughts
    – When I see Tyler White I keep thinking he should be in someone’s front yard with a gnome’s hat on his head
    – I’m getting mighty used to the name “Framber” – maybe push for a grandkid with that name
    – When you have some of these names that we have on the “sorry you did not make the playoff bullpen” list – you have a really good and deep bullpen
    – Seeing Altuve knock in a run and Springer starting to heat up gets me remembering what this line up did last year.
    – I would be real happy if this team figured out how to put up 5 or 6 runs on a consistent basis

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  10. As to the playoff roster, I see no need for 3 catchers. If someone’s leg falls off (hip discomfort) he can be replaced. Jake makes the roster. And as to the bullpen, with two on and no outs, I don’t want Sipp, Harris, nor a Rookie coming in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suspect McCann goes back to Atlanta to play 40-50 games as the backup and then retires after the season next year. Regardless, I hope he never has to buy his own beer in Houston the rest of his life.

      Liked by 2 people

    • No fielder was sitting in the stands or in the deepest part of left center to stop him.
      It is amazing how many at bats he squares up on a pitch – just phenomenal

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  11. The boys looked really good last night. Shades of last year’s playoff team.
    No words to describe Bregman.

    On another note. Who are these guys in Oakland and where did they come from? Mowing down the Yankees like that. Wow.

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    • The A’s have won 100 games since this time last year. They are a very good baseball team. If they had an intact rotation, our battle with them would be that much tougher.

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      • On the other hand, the Astros could say – what if we did not have our top players missing so many games, Springer, Altuve, Correa, McCann plus McCullers – would that have evened out what the A’s have lost.
        What is interesting is:
        a) The A’s have truly played as good or better without some of their best pitchers available
        b) The M’s played a lot better without Robinson Cano than with him this season….

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      • Fiers holding NY to 2 runs. Mike Fiers of all people.
        Bet the Yanks fans are hoping like heck that Oakland wins the division so they don’t have that one game playoff with them.

        We are going to have some tough competition next year.

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  12. Guys and gals, just to be clear re my comment last night on Bregman “having something going on.” I know he’s good and all that. What I was referring to is something beyond that. He’s uncanny. It’s almost like he makes stuff happen by sheer force of will. And with energy left over for tricks in the dugout. I keep thinking pride will take him down, but it hasn’t. And I don’t want it to, don’t get me wrong. I guess I’m just a little freaked by him.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know he is a cocky son-uva-gun, Diane, but as the late great Dizzy Dean said “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”
      I think he just is having the time of his life with this and while there is no way he is going to stay this hot forever, there sure is no reason to think that the guy who had so many key hits in the 2017 playoffs and has carried this year’s offense when practically everyone else has been hurt or struggling is going to collapse on us either. The crazy stare stuff is just some way to team build with his friends while making baseball fun like a game should be.
      He sure does not let it get in the way he concentrates when important at bats come his way.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I remember something about Bregman during an interview with him saying he wants to be the best third baseman ever, in the Hall of Fame, plus additional attributes. You don’t get there by sheer talent alone. You have to have the attitude that I’m the best there is. I’m glad he plays for us and not somebody else.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Keep in mind that he had a slow start as well and slumped for a bit after the break!

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…when it’s all said and done he will turn out to be the best player out of everyone we have right now…and he may turn out to be our best ever. He’s got the talent and he also has the drive.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Again, I don’t get freaked by the cockiness. I get weirded out because he seems to draw on other-worldly resources. But hey, there is another world, so what’s the diff? I noted this before but will repeat: Alex’s father said (pretty much direct quote), “Whether he’ll tell you or not, and he probably would, he believes he can be the greatest player in the history of baseball.” And yes, the greats always have that type of confidence. I will be content to watch in joy and amazement. But still freaked.

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  15. Bregmans, dugout stare is starting to unify this team…kinda like the “belt” did last year. If that propels these guys to another World Series appearance, then keep it up! Whatever it takes to play as a tight unit, I’m for it!
    Gotta admit, he’s a darn good 3rd baseman! AND….he’s gonna be here for quite a while!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. When there was talk of bringing Bregman up, found some video of him batting at LSU and in the minors. It appears someone told him, “ take the bat and hit the ball.” ZERO wasted movement. No arms flapping or exaggerated stance. Just see ball, hit it with the bat.

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  17. Bill James blamed a guy that died 500 years before Christ with his Pathagorean Theory. Using his calculations the Astros should already have 95 wins and Oakland only 80. Wish it were so. 99-63.

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  18. I’m putting them in one game better than last year at 102 wins. I really think they are going to finish pretty good. Their destiny is in their hands, and bats!
    Not gonna wager and money, but they know what needs to happen to get to the BIG SHOW again.

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  19. I would be thrilled if we are 2.5 up come Monday.
    After reading an article in Astros Country, Cora says he’s throwing every thing he has at the Astros this weekend. He said “ We’re not going to make it easy for them. It’s not like we owe Oakland anything but I think pushing them will be good for them. “

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