Oakland finally blinks,: Astros are AL West champions


If you told an Astros fan before the season that the Astros would be the AL West Champs they might have yawned at you and said “But of course”. If you told them they were in for a tough struggle and would only pull it out in the last week of the season their interest might be piqued by the tale. And if you told them the Oakland A’s were their closest challengers and outplayed the Astros for more than 1/2 the season they might have gone “Huh?”

The Astros won the title last night long after their win against the Toronto Blue Jays was in the books. The Seattle Mariners, who put up the best fight against the Astros in the first half of the season came roaring back from an 8-5 deficit in the 8th inning to tie the game against the A’s last night and won it in the 11th on a 2 run walk off by Chris Hermann.

The Astros were a team led by pitching this year and has had to weather hitting regression and injuries to some of their best players to clinch this title.

In 2017, the question about the team was could they stand up to playoff pressure having played most of the season with a huge divisional lead. In 2018 the questions may be, can they win if their offense goes MIA and can they win if their big three George Springer (thumb), Jose Altuve (knee), and Carlos Correa (back) are sub par nursing those injuries?

Well, they do have the big one, team MVP Alex Bregman and late bloomer Tyler White and lately hitting Marwin Gonzalez, Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel. They have pitching studs like Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton, a crafty veteran in Dallas Keuchel and lots of bullpen help with Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, Hector Rondon, Collin McHugh, Brad Peacock and a playoff cast to be determined. Where do vets like Tony Sipp, Chris Devenski, and Will Harris fall? What about mercurial Lance McCullers or big time youngsters Framber Valdez and Josh James? Brian McCann and Martin Maldonado are in – Max Stassi must be out. What about 7th game World Series hero Evan Gattis? Does Jake Marisnick, who was hurt last playoffs, make it this time?

There are a lot of roster questions to be answered, but only one goal. Eleven more wins!

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75 comments on “Oakland finally blinks,: Astros are AL West champions

  1. Just woke up to the news Frigging DILLY DILLY. Time to get ready for them Indians. Now can the Texan’s actually win a game? I’m glad I’m not the GM- MGR, some tough decisions on the 25. How does everyone see the spots on the 25 going as far as pitchers?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think Hinch will go with veteran pitchers and position players.
    I know James and Valdez have really helped, but Hinch likes veterans. I think White and Gattis are in, as well as Kemp and Marisnick.
    I think if McCullers is healthy, he’s in. I think Sipp makes the playoff roster.
    But, what do I know?

    Liked by 2 people

    • kevin i like your staff, but i think it likely that joe smith and/or will harris sneaks in there. james and framber both deserve recognition for their contributions to this season. i’d like to see james in the pen as a power arm to blow away certain portions of enemy lineups. we’ll see.
      also the 25 can change from series to series. so we may see them even if they arent on the original playoff roster.

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  3. Love today’s lineup. It’s a “we won the division and now we don’t give a ****”. Glad Max is starting… he should play the rest of this short amount of time to avoid Maldonado getting hurt. McCann is done but his experience will keep him on the playoff roster

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I did a happy dance in my den in the early hours of this morning!! Took me a while to settle down and go to sleep, but I slept in this morning. I’m not sure what the time line for getting out of Canada today, but I totally expect to see Champagne flow in that visitors clubhouse today!! No team in the last 10 yrs has won 100 games back to back. I wonder if any of us realize how hard this is to do. Here’s what I hope will happen:
    Charlie Morton’s, wife has a wonderful healthy baby, and Charlie’s, shoulder feels good to go!
    Correa’s back holds up and his bat shows up to help the guys win!
    Springer’s thumb gets better and he has a bunch of homeruns in that bat.
    Altuve’s knee helps him steal a lot of bases!
    McCullers comes out of the bullpen throwing high heat!
    Tony Sipp gets a chance to show he can be depended on.
    No matter what….these guys will keep these memories for the rest of their lives.
    No matter what WE will keep these memories the rest of OUR lives.
    We are indeed blessed to be able to witness greatness…and I can’t thank these guys enough for letting us be a part of it! October baseball…here we come⚾!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. we have arguably the best rotation in baseball
    we have arguably the best offense in baseball
    we have arguably the best bullpen in baseball.
    we have our present and future closer on the team in osuna. remember he couldnt pitch for 75 games and his 2018 stats are very good. thats very hard to do after having to miss all that time.
    we’ve got a few games to get over bumps and bruises and align our rotation.
    we have playoff and world series experience.
    we are getting healthy
    we are the team to beat. come and try!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hard for me to celebrate after they played like crap. That was one disinterested team out on that field. Even Yuli didn’t care.
    I hate it when they play great all month and just lay down like a dog when they have a chance to sweep in Toronto for the first time ever. That was like watching a birthday party for brats.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I couldn’t watch it, but I agree with you OP you try to win ANY game. I guess they just couldn’t wait to pop the bubbly. The radio guys are looking for a baseball name for Miles Straw, stealing two bases today sounded like this kid will be on the playoff roster! I’m listening right now to Steve Sparks in the clubhouse, sounds like they are having a LOT of fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were some hard hit balls. Just that they were hit right at somebody and there were a couple of good defensive plays by Toronto players. Pitchers were good. Missed the 1st two innings so I didn’t see Devo pitch but I don’t think he should be on the playoff roster. Too many better options. Tucker was a disappointment this year in his limited playing time so he’s got a ways to go to make the team. Straw is fast as greased lightening. He’s fun to watch. No the fun part will be who gets to be on the playoff roster. Luhnow & Hinch have some difficult decisions to make. Need to get some one wins in Baltimore.

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  8. The Blue Jays cut ties with John Gibbons after last night’s game….and I’m sad.
    When we won the Red Sox series last year they fired their manager before we left town. When they beat the Yankees, they fired THEIR manager. Maybe all these guys were on the” hot seat” anyway, but it makes me sad the way these guys ge the Ax. I’m no fan of the arlington little league, but the manager can only play the guys the club gives him. Thank goodness Luhnow gave Hinch some mighty good players! I certainly hope the booze they drank today, doesn’t carry over for tomorrow’s game🍾🍺🍷

    Liked by 1 person

    • I enjoy reading about how the owner’s extend Jon Daniels and he then fires Banister. So if you check the Rangers salaries, the highest paid “performer” is Prince Fielder at $24 million. He was paid that last year, this year and also same amount in 2019 and 2020. Hard to communicate with your highest paid player who has been gone since July 2016.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Now that we can “rest easy”, the answer we all want to know; who’s going to be on the playoff roster and who gets left off.
    The “fence sitters” as I define them,
    Pitchers – Josh James, Framber Valdez, Will Harris, Hector Rondon, Tony Sipp, LMJ. (9 known)
    Players – Max Stassi, Miles Straw, Evan Gattis (12 known)
    Depends if we take 13 or 12 pitchers.

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    • Unless I have totally lost my baseball knowledge abilities:
      -Marisnick would have been on the playoff roster last year had he not been hurt. He becomes the basestealer/late inning defensive replacement/ RH outfielder pinch hitter on this playoff team. Straw is faster, but Jake is the man.
      – Evan Gattis is on the roster as the Centeno/Beltran replacement from last year’s playoff roster.
      – Hinch showed us who our two playoff catchers were in the stretch run of September. Maldonado and McCann are to be free agents, but they are healthy now and one is LH and one is RH.
      – If Will Harris is left off of the playoff roster, there is no way they will pick up that $5.5 million option next season. If they don’t trust Will for the playoffs, that could be Josh James’s ticket to the playoff bullpen. I believe the weakness in our rotation is Keuchel’s tendency to get in trouble and having James in the bullpen to face a RH lineup, stacked to face Keuchel, could prove to be extremely valuable.
      -There is no way Carlos Correa would have been DHing last night if he were not healthy enough to make the playoff roster. Correa’s problem is not his health. His problem is his head and his swing.
      -There is no way LMJ would have been in there last night if he were not ready to pitch. If he is ready to pitch, he is on the playoff roster. Period.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree on CC. I thought all along that the recent rest was not to rehab his back but to rehab his head (and ego). Hinch probably though it was better to say he had more back issues than to move him to 8th or sit him.

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  10. I’ll take advantage of the lull in the action to talk playoff roster.

    I’m pretty sure the Astros carry the same 11/14 split that they went with last year in the playoffs. They have a better rotation than last year and they have bullpen arms capable of going multiple innings.

    Starters (9): CF – Springer, 3B – Bregman, 2B – Altuve, SS – Correa, 1B – Yuli, LF – Gonzalez, DH – White, RF – Reddick, C – McCann/ Maldanado (L/R platoon).

    Bench (5): McCann/ Maldanado (PH), Gattis (PH/Emergency C), Kemp (PH/ PR), Marisnick (PH/ PR/ Defense), Straw (PH/PR/ Defense)

    SP (4): Verlander, Cole, Keuchel, Morton

    BP (7): McCullers, Rondon, Pressly, Osuna, Sipp

    On the bubble for the remaining 2 bullpen arms: Devo, Harris, McHugh, Peacock, Smith, James, Valdez

    I could conceivably see them go with 12 pitchers, which would drop Straw and only leave Jake and Kemp as pinch running options. If you bump Gattis to add a 3rd speed guy you have no emergency catcher and one less legitimate pinch hitter.

    In either case, the team has some tough decisions to make on the final 2-3 bullpen arms. It’s pretty clear that Devo is out so you have Harris, McHugh, Peacock, Smith, James and Valdez fighting for 2 possibly 3 remaining positions.

    McHugh – shaky as of late but great overall season. Not great stuff but baffles hitters when he is on. No experience from last year’s playoff run. Can go multiple innings.

    Peacock – chunk the first ball in the stands, tack on a run and start from there. Wipeout stuff but has been inconsistent in second half. Experience from last year’s playoff run. Can go multiple innings.

    Harris – steady and solid. Does not have spectacular stuff but gets the job done. Not a real contributor in playoffs last year.

    Smith – inconsistent this year. The Best or the worst (pick your night). Veteran, but no real playoff. Playoff experience with good stats. Do you leave one of your big offseason FA signings off the team?

    James – 100+. Can go multiple innings. Rookie.

    Valdez – wicked stuff that no one seems to be able to square up. Provides 2nd lefty option. Can go multiple innings. Control issues. Rookie.

    I think they will go McHugh, Smith (and Peacock if they carry 12 pitchers).

    I would go (McHugh, Valdez (and James if they carry 12).

    The chance to have a second lefty out of the pen with Valdez stuff and ability to go multiple is too good for me to pass up. With all of the multi- inning guys I would add the 100+). The big thing is that there is not much of a book on these guys.

    What are your choices?

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    • When I look at this I can’t help but think some of the guys who don’t make the cut for the Astros would be front- line options for the Indians and would probably make the roster on several other playoff teams.

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      • I go with 12 pitchers and the last three are Harris, Smith and Peacock. If Someone gets hurt or sick, you have terrific replacements left on the 40-man roster to replace them. If somebody is bad in the first series, you can make a change if you are still in the second series.

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  11. Hey, how would you lay out your playoff roster if it were 2013 again. C-Castro, 1st-Carter, 2nd-Altuve, SS-Villar, 3rd-Matty D, LF- We get J D Martinez, CF – Barnes, RF – Hoes, DH-Pena. Bench (Pick from Grossman, Wallace, Margo, Corporan, Crowe, Cedeno, Maxwell.) Starters DK, Harrell, Norris, Bedard, Lyles, or Peacock. Bullpen – Pick from Veras, Wright, Fields, Ambriz, Blackley, the other Clemens, and a cast of thousands.

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  12. Quite a week…
    – I’m at Disneyworld with my wife and youngest son
    – The Astros wrap up that divisional title
    – Mr Bill realizes we have the most fun, intelligent (and modest) Astros blog around

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I just read an article breaking down the Red Sox/ Yankees series.

    My only thought was: “did you guys run this by the A’s first”?

    I think the A’s are going to have a big say in who ends up playing the Red Sox. I think they have a better than 50% chance to beat the Yankees in a one game take all and I think they give the Red Sox fits in a best of 5. If they can get to Boston’s bullpen I think they have enough offense to exploit the weakness.

    Like

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