The marathon of a baseball season is over with the Astros setting a team record with 107 wins, which also happens to be more than any other team in the MLB. The marathon began 6 months ago last Saturday and now begins with a series (hopefully) of three mad dashes to the World Series trophy.
If the Astros are lucky enough to win the first two series, they will set their playoff roster three times. The first roster will be utilized for the best 3 out of 5 game AL Divisional Series which begins this Friday at Minute Maid Park. The Astros will lock themselves into a 25-man roster made up of active players on their 40 man roster. This would seem to be a fairly straight forward process, but is complicated by the following.
- The teams will travel after the second game and after the fourth game, which means that the teams do not need to use more than four starters during the series. Additionally, it means that there is less chance of wearing out the bullpens, since they will not be asked to pitch on three consecutive days, so theoretically there could be smaller bullpens in use.
- The Astros are currently up in the air (publicly) about who their fourth starter is. Will it be veteran Wade Miley, who was brilliant in last year’s playoffs for the Brewers, posting a 1.23 ERA in four starts and was terrific through the Astros first five months of this season (13-4 / 3.06 ERA)? Miley has collapsed since that time. Or will they go with youngster Jose Urquidy, who was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in September, including two fine starts? There is a good chance that if Miley is named the fourth starter that Urquidy will still be on the 25-man roster in the bullpen, but if Urquidy is named the fourth starter there is a better chance that Miley will be a spectator.
- Will Carlos Correa be healthy enough to be put on the 25-man roster? This is a mystery at the moment. He sounds confident he will be ready, while Jeff Luhnow sounds like he is from Missouri. Will CC show enough in the next few days to earn that critical spot? If not it is likely going to help someone like Abraham Toro to make it onto the 25-man roster.
- Does it make a difference whether the Astros play the Oakland A’s or the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS? The A’s score about a 1/2 run more per game than the Rays, while the Rays pitching is about 0.2 runs better per game. Would this cause them to put on an extra pitcher or positional player depending on the matchup? Who knows what stats are rattling around the nerd’s computers? Is there someone who is poison to or poisoned by either of those teams? We shall see.
The best way to look at this is to state which players are locks to be on the 25-man. The assumption here is that Correa will be on this list.
- Robinson Chirinos
- Yuli Gurriel
- Jose Altuve
- Carlos Correa
- Alex Bregman
- Josh Reddick
- George Springer
- Michael Brantley
- Yordan Alvarez
- Martin Maldonado
- Aledmys Diaz
- Justin Verlander
- Gerrit Cole
- Zack Greinke
- Roberto Osuna
- Ryan Pressly
- Will Harris
- Joe Smith
- Brad Peacock (if he is truly healthy)
- Hector Rondon
The balance of the other five spots come down to this. There will be one more starter. There will be one or two more relievers. And there will be two or three positional subs with one being a fourth OF, one being an IF (or swing man) and one other if needed could be either an OF or IF.
What Dan thinks at this time for the other 5 spots
- Jose Urquidy – fourth starter
- Josh James
- Kyle Tucker
- Myles Straw
- Jake Marisnick
This means that – Wade Miley, Bryan Abreu, Chris Devenski, Joe Biagini, Framber Valdez (and of course Collin McHugh) do not make it from the pitching side. Abraham Toro, Garrett Stubbs and Jack Mayfield miss out for the position players.
If the Astros go with one more pitcher, I think it is Abreu and frankly would not be shocked if he made it on the 25 man any ways. Tucker has hit well in his second time up with the club and has done a good job fielding, too. Straw is this team’s faster version of Derek Fisher but with the ability to play the infield and the outfield. And they believe that Jake brings them a lot of value as a late inning defensive sub and pinch runner.
I know there may be some questions about Rondon, but remember he pitched pretty darned well in his 62 appearances this season, especially if you throw away the ill-fated 6 run appearance as a “starter”. Do that and his 3.71 ERA drops to 2.82 on the season.
But this is what I think. Let me know how you see this turning out and how dumb you think my list is.