The ever-morphing Astros’ rotation

One of the points of discussion for the Astros entering the 2021 season is that at least on paper they have a set 5 man rotation based on the 2020 stretch run and the playoffs. Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy may not have the star power that some of the Astro rotations of the recent past, but if they do stay together it will be a change of pace from the recent past.

This is a quick look at the top 6 starters for the Astros in each season, since the last season of the depression (2013) up to last season. In general, except for 2018 when 5 pitchers took the mound for a staggering 152 starts, the Astros depended on at least 6 starters for the vast majority of their starts. Here is a list with rankings from Pitcher #1 to #6 based solely on this writer’s opinion. It is amazing how much change there is from season to season.

Season Pitcher #1 Pitcher #2 Pitcher #3 Pitcher #4 Pitcher #5 Pitcher #6
2013 Bud Norris  6-9    3.93 ERA Erik Bedard   4-12 4.59 ERA Dallas Keuchel 
6-10 5.15 ERA
Brad Peacock  5-6  5.18 ERA Jordan Lyles     7-9  5.59 ERA Lucas Harrell     6-17  5.86 ERA
2014 Dallas Keuchel   12-9  2.93 ERA Collin McHugh   11-9 2.73 ERA Scott Feldman  8-12  3.74 ERA Jarred Cosart 9-7  4.41 ERA Brett Oberholtzer 5-13 4.39 ERA Brad Peacock   4-9  4.72 ERA
2015 Dallas Keuchel 20-8  2.48 ERA Collin McHugh  19-7 3.89 ERA Lance McCullers 6-7  3.22 ERA Scott Feldman  5-5  3.90 ERA Scott Kazmir     2-6  4.17 ERA Mike Fiers           2-1  3.32 ERA
2016 Collin McHugh  13-10 4.34 ERA Mike Fiers         11-8 4.48 ERA Dallas Keuchel   9-12  4.55 ERA Doug Fister        12-13 4.64 ERA Lance McCullers    6-5  3.22 ERA Joe Musgrove     4-4  4.06 ERA
2017 Justin Verlander 5-0  1.06 ERA Dallas Keuchel  14-5 2.90 ERA Charlie Morton  14-7  3.62 ERA *Brad Peacock  10-2  3.22 ERA Lance McCullers  7-4  4.25 ERA Mike Fiers           8-10  5.22 ERA
2018 Justin Verlander 16-9  2.52 ERA Gerrit Cole          15-5 2.88 ERA Charlie Morton  15-3  3.13 ERA Dallas Keuchel   12-11 3.74 ERA Lance McCullers   10-6 3.86 ERA  
2019 Justin Verlander  21-6  2.58 ERA Gerrit Cole         20-5 2.50 ERA Zack Greinke      8-1  3.02 ERA Wade Miley     14-6  3.08 ERA *Brad Peacock     5-6  4.24 ERA Jose Urquidy       2-1  3.95 ERA
2020 Framber Valdez  5-3  3.57 ERA Zack Greinke     3-3  4.03 ERA Lance McCullers  3-3  3.93 ERA Cristian Javier    5-2   3.48 ERA Jose Urquidy       1-1  2.73 ERA Brandon Bielak   3-3  6.75 ERA
* In 2017 and 2019, the numbers shown are for Peacock as a starter only

While a big part of the Astros recent success has been based upon gathering a core of positional studs (George Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, etc.), the key to their improvement as a team has been their pitching, especially their starting rotations. Let’s take a look at how that changed over the years:

2013 – This was the nadir for the franchise, a 51-111 season that meant they had hit bottom or else there was no bottom. The rotation was bad like the rest of the team and heading towards a big transition. They traded Bud Norris at the trade deadline. They traded Jordan Lyles in the off-season. They let Erik Bedard hit free agency after the season. They traded Lucas Harrell (how the heck did he get enough starts to lose 17 games) in April 2014. They held on to Dallas Keuchel and Brad Peacock. That was a smart move.

2014 – While not quite respectable in 2014, the Astros rose to a less stinky 70-92. The focus point for most of their improvement was the starting rotation, which was a definite bright spot. This was the season when Dallas Keuchel turned the corner and became the ace of the staff. The Astros also had brought in Scott Feldman as a workhorse innings eater and had installed young Jarred Cosart in the rotation, temporarily, before being traded away at the deadline. But the big addition was picking up Collin McHugh off of waivers for nada and installing him and his big spin curve in the 2nd spot in the rotation.

2015 – This season was a giant leap forward for the team as they put up an 86-76 record and made the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Cy Young winner Keuchel and 19 game winner McHugh led the staff. Lance McCullers was brought up and grabbed a spot in the rotation. Feldman pitched blah early, went out with an injury and pitched much better in July and August. Feldman would shift mostly to the bullpen in 2016. The team went out and picked up more pitching during the season with Scott Kazmir and Mike (Spit!!) Fiers. In the end the team outperformed expectations and fell to the eventual World Champion Royals

2016 – Expectations were high headed into 2016, but the team regressed slightly to 84-78 and this was reflected in a large regression with the pitching staff. Keuchel had the biggest drop off, which was tied to an injury he was secretly trying to pitch through. McHugh and Fiers were both pitching worse in 2016 and the Astros added Doug Fister through free agency, who was pretty mediocre. McCullers and Joe Musgrove did solid jobs at the back of the rotation.

2017 – McHugh missed most of the season with injury. Keuchel looked like he wanted another Cy Young until an injury slowed him down. Morton and Peacock were very strong throughout the season with Peacock also putting in some good support in the bullpen. Fiers (Spit!!) was bad, except…..when the Astros had multiple starters out with injury. During that time he pitched like someone was signaling him whether the hitters were swinging or taking the pitches. But nothing mattered until the Astros made the biggest waiver deadline trade in history to reel in the white whale, Justin Verlander. He immediately became the ace and the team rolled through September after that huge trade and all the way to a World Series win.

2018 – In the off-season, the Astros went out and got what turned out to be their book end matching set stud in Gerrit Cole in a trade almost as big as the JV trade. This was not the sure thing it seems in retrospect as he was coming off a very so-so 2017 season with Pittsburgh. Cole and Verlander became twin aces for the team with Morton just a step behind and Keuchel and McCullers representing the best 4th and 5th starters in the game. These five pitchers carried the load as the Astros made the playoffs and were derailed by the Boston (we really did not cheat) Red Sox.

2019 – The Astros lost both Keuchel and Morton to free agency after the 2018 season. They brought in Wade Miley before the season and Zack Greinke during the season, who both did great things for the team (ignoring Miley’s complete collapse down the stretch). McCullers missed the whole year after Tommy John surgery and some of his load was picked up by both Brad Peacock and rookie Jose Urquidy, who gave the team a great start in the World Series. The starters helped lead the team to the ultimately long playoff run that left them a handful of outs short of their second title.

2020 – The year 2020 was the most disrupted and odd feeling year in Astro’s history. The Astros lost Gerrit Cole to the Yankees. Wade Miley left via free agency, too. COVID delayed and then shortened the season to about 40% of a normal year. Verlander pitched six innings and then was done for the year and probably for the Astros’ portion of his career. Peacock was injured and returned for a cameo out of the bullpen. Jose Urquidy was likely out most of the season due to COVID and then returned for only five (though strong) starts. Austin Pruitt was brought in before the season to contend for an end of the rotation spot and/or long relief and due to injury never pitched for the big club. The rotation was saved by the workman like inning eating by Greinke and McCullers, the total control makeover by Framber Valdez and the brilliant MLB debut of Cristian Javier. Behind them there were some very good and very bad starts from Brandon Bielak and a strong spot start from Luis Garcia. The usage of some of the staff (Valdez, Javier) out of the bullpen in the playoffs helped the team go much farther than anyone could possibly have believed.

Over the last 8 seasons the Astros fortunes year to year seemed tied to the starting rotation, rising and falling in rhythm to those tides. The 6 top spots each year were filled by 24 different pitchers, who came and went – chasing money, pitching their way out of the league, falling out of favor, being used as trade bait, etc. Will the same six pitchers from 2020 be the main rotation components for 2021? History would tell us to expect the unexpected.

47 comments on “The ever-morphing Astros’ rotation

  1. Injuries. We saw how tough the 2020 summer league turned out to be. But given good health, I’ll feel pretty good if we open the 2021 season with Javier as our number 5 guy. I think most clubs would like to be in that position.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. One thing that stands out here is that we either don’t develop pitchers or they don’t stay around very long (Keuchel being the exception with McHugh, Peacock, and Fiers (barf) being somewhat longer than normal. That would mean we are either terrible at identifying talent, bad at developing talent, or good at trading away talent for the present and saying to hell with the long term strategy or (maybe a combination of the three. I would think Click just might change that philosophy but we shall see.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Develop pitchers? Strom and the minor league instructors beginning in about 2017 really began to excel at draft and development!

      In 2018, we traded SP Frankiln Perez + for Justin Verlander

      We also developed Musgrove for 4 yrs (and Feliz), and later traded them for Gerrit Cole.

      We traded P’s Jorge Guzman and Albert Abreu to NYY for Brian McCann.

      That draft in 2018 really started to change things for us, too. We traded for Ryan Pressly, and turned him into an animal.

      2019 previously developed in-house:
      1. Martin 2. McCullers 3. Abreu 4. James 5. Framber 6. Urquidy 7. Cionel Perez
      Traded P Bukauskas for Future HoF, Greinke

      2020
      1. Paredes 2. Garcia 3. Bielak 4. Castellanos 5. Blake Taylor and Andre Scrubb 7. Nivaldo Rodriguez 8. Javier 9. Bailey

      In 2017 most of those pitchers were entrenched (McHugh, Harris, Sipp we couldnt get rid of), and we had poor depth with like Dayan Diaz and Asher Tolliver. Now we have guys like Ivey Solis Solomon Whitley Hansen Dubin Henley Brown Santos Torres Conine that could all follow a path of Cristian Javier, or take a few years like Framber to become a frontline starter. Very homegrown now compared to years’ past.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You are correct in the direction as of 2017 going forward. I don’t know how good are other clubs at developing front line starters but we always seem to hear about some new phenom at another club as opposed o the Astros. And I don’t think that there is a better developer of pitching talent than Strom. I just hope we can see some of that new group pitching for us that you mentioned in the coming seasons. It would seem that some of the more talented pitchers that we acquired through trade got much better after coming here. That is a direct result of Strom’s influence. Of course maybe they are more ready to listen to a master teacher as opposed to the younger guys. Just food for thought.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Z, that is because the Astros last time to select in the 1st round of any effect was 2016 Forrest Whitley which as a RHSP from high school was always going to take 4+ years to develop; and the other teams have employed the tanking strategy once they are out of the race in order to draft that phenom who they can target since they alone possess the pick.

        In ’17 Bukauskas #15
        ’18 Seth Beer #28 was out first pick
        ’19 #32 Korey Lee
        Incredibly lucky to have Santos fall to #72 to us last year!

        We just haven’t had the same opportunity, other than trading the young guys we develop for those mentioned JV Cole McCann Press Greinke etc

        We are developing Javier Paredes Garcia Rivera on SHOESTRING money, compared to other teams paying multi-millions! We’re squeezing more out of these turnips than any other team that I know of.

        On Cionel Perez, he must be roster’d this year because he’s out of options. He’s still very solid but he just got beat out by Raley and Blake Taylor. I can imagine in that regard, Perez is tradeable along with other guys blocked; Nova, Toro and so on. Click is smart though and Rays philosophy was to dump players that are out of options (ergo, Austin Pruitt), so we would also use a phantom injury to stow Cionel, the same way Cash played 51 players in ’19 (“sneaky”). Since monies are shrinking Astros in an enviable position with all this depth.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the info. Where else could I get good information that I don’t possess. That’s just one of the reasons I really enjoy the blog.

        Like

  3. When Correa walks out the door after the 2021 season for 2 much money.

    Here’s your Opening Day starter at SS in 2022.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The Astros High a Advanced minor league team will be in Asheville NC. The Asheville Tourists.
    The Fayetteville Woodpeckers in Fayetteville, NC will be the Low A farm club.
    Both teams in the same state. Awesome!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Personally I won’t she’d a tear if Click traded McCullers. You never know which Lance McCullers is gonna show up…..he’s too much of a drama queen.
    I bet money they will put Javier in the bullpen for their long reliever….but who knows. Let’s talk about one guy who we’ve been waiting to see make the jump to the bug club. Cionel Perez. Think his time is just about up waiting for him to show he’s got the stuff to stay up, or is it time to cut bait. When he got here I for one had very high hopes he would just go to AAA and polish up his delivery….that was like 3yrs ago am I correct? I’m willing to give him until next July….but if he can’t hang with the big club, trade him if you can.
    Happy Birthday OP! You’re a month older than me you old fart!!
    (Can I say that)?!!! Oh well….I just did!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Rule 5 (virtual of course) draft begins at 11 AM this morning Central time.
    My gut feeling is that I don’t know how active today will be. Did the lack of a 2020 minor league season cause a bigger pileup in Rule 5 eligible prospects so that teams don’t have space on their 25 man to add other Team’s prospects? Or will teams be interested from a budget standpoint of taking a chance on a Rule 5 at the end of the roster rather than a so-so veteran?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fangraphs likes our five starters in this order:
    Valdez
    LMJ
    Greinke
    Urquidy
    Javier
    The thinking is that Urquidy and Javier had better results than they should have and will regress. In other words, the experts think their luck with giving up runs will run out. Projections don’t do well in considering that very young, inexperienced pitchers will improve.
    If I am looking to add a veteran starter who is affordable, I am going to make a run at Garrett Richards. He has the velocity and spin rates that Strommie could really work with.
    In the meantime, fill those upper minors with our best pitching prospects and lets see what they have learned in the 18 months they have been working.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Even by his standards – Greinke looked uncomfortable last year. I wonder if he will get back to the numbers he was carrying the last 6 or 7 years or if 2020 was a signal he was on the decline?

    Like

    • Dan, which numbers are concerning you about Greinke? I saw more of him than any of our other starters last season. His velocity is still down pretty far from league average and I don’t see it returning unless someone can hook him up to Roy Oswalt’s car battery or drop him out of Billy Wagner’s tree or something. But the numbers that matter were pretty impressive. He had 67K in 67IP against only 9BB. He gave up 30ER, but only averaged 0.8HR / 9IP so it wasn’t from getting shelled. He admitted to being tired when the season started and feeling unprepared without the normal spring training, but going into September her was really rolling. He lost 3 of his last 4 starts, but only one was what I’d call a bad start giving up 5 runs to the Dodgers in an 8-1 loss.

      I don’t think we can expect him to be a Cy Young candidate in 2021, but he’s still going out and pitching incredibly well in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Imagine that! A 37 year old pitcher with HOF credentials declining.
      With the totalscrewedupness of 2020, I’m going to cut him some slack and say that a return to normalness in 2021 might help him be more comfortable.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Devin – frankly if you look his starts the last 6 weeks when his ERA went from 1.84 to 4 plus – he seemed pretty hittable – more than a hit per inning – most of his HRs given up then.
      Of course this is a small sample in such a short season – maybe just a tired arm.
      He had kept that ERA around 3 for years – maybe just a result of not his normal preparation for a season.

      Like

    • I get the impression that Grienke felt pretty much the same way I did about the 2020 “season” which is a bit unfortunate because he was getting 12 million something and I was getting nothing for our mutual indifference.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Jesse: There are some good arms out there though that I would love to see them give a shot.

    GS1 Posted 11:48 AM
    Whoever we select though
    Has to be better than the guy we have to release,
    so if we do select someone, especially since we’re #16 we won’t get pick of the litter
    It would likely be someone because of younger age and higher upside than Castellanos or Perez, as examples.
    You see that either one of these players we’d have to DFA would be taken in a snap too.
    So, I don’t see us doing anything..

    However, on the flip side
    Rivera and I have in mind two more
    But I want to be precise.

    @GoStros1
    “Well, I’ll go on record since I got Ferrell and Fergie, then Arauz Ramirez Bailey on Rule 5 day.

    [I totally missed Ryan Thompson that Rays took from us 2 years ago — the same guy who killed us in the ALCS! Rays are TOO smart!]

    JA Rivera will sadly be snapped up

    The next two are a little tricky.

    I’ll take a guess: Macuare or Ramirez, crazy to overlook Meyers. Dawson, JP Lopez & Papierski close calls”.

    1. Pittsburgh Pirates — Jose Soriano, RHP (Angels)
    2. Texas Rangers — Brett de Geus, RHP (Dodgers)
    3. Detroit Tigers — Akil Baddoo, OF (Twins)
    4. Boston Red Sox — Garrett Whitlock, RHP (Yankees)
    5. Baltimore Orioles — Mac Sceroler, RHP (Reds)
    6. Arizona Diamondbacks — Zach Pop, RHP (Orioles)
    7. Kansas City Royals — Pass
    8. Colorado Rockies — Jordan Sheffield, RHP (Dodgers)
    9. Los Angeles Angels — Jose Alberto Rivera, RHP (Astros)
    10. New York Mets — Luis Oviedo, RHP (Indians)
    11. Washington Nationals — Pass
    12. Seattle Mariners — Will Vest, RHP (Tigers)
    13. Philadelphia Phillies — Kyle Holder, SS (Yankees)
    14. San Francisco Giants — Dedniel Nunez, RHP (Mets)
    15. Milwaukee Brewers — Pass
    16. Houston Astros — Pass
    17. Miami Marlins — Paul Campbell, RHP (Rays)
    18. Cincinnati Reds — Pass
    19. St. Louis Cardinals — Pass
    20. Toronto Blue Jays — Pass
    21. New York Yankees — Pass
    22. Chicago Cubs — Gray Fenter, RHP (Orioles)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Op was right too, not a lot going on this year.

    I’m just glad we only lost 1!

    Teams had already a robust roster when they were able to get undrafted players for $20,000. What a coup that was!

    Like

      • Here’s another example of something I don’t quite understand not being “in baseball.”

        Michael Papierski is a much better catcher than Chuckie. Robinson is an ol’ farmhand, so that must be exactly what he was selected for. Had they taken Papierski even in AAA phase, they’d have had to roster him probably next year, and they didn’t want to plan on having to do that for a best-case-backup.

        Like

    • Ferguson and Ritchie were on a quest as the 1st to play MLB from Belmont University. Drew is known for being one of the most instinctive and smart — probably good managerial material someday.

      Ferguson got surpassed in my mind by Stephen Wrenn who does deserve a shot this year at CF in AAA, imo. He has a good speed combo, light on bat. Next to Dawson, Astros are vested $ pretty good there vs Bryan De la Cruz.

      But Bryan will emerge by mid-season, and so will Jake Meyers by end of season.

      So by OD on 2022, we will have

      Tucker
      Straw
      BDLC & McCormick
      Daniels & Barber
      Pedro Leon

      This is why I think we need a 1-yr deal not 3 yrs of Bradley Jr.
      This is why I would think a Brantley deal hasn’t been signed because he can get at least 2. With spending freeze and ALREADY having to commit $5.3m to International, plus the freeze on Crane’s huge R/E investment in West Palm Beach with GCL no longer playing…we may be looking within a LOT more than previously planned.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Robinson has been around our organization for quite a while. Maybe they think he will have lots of knowledge about how the Astros develop their pitchers. Maybe they want some of that info to help them with their pitchers.

    Like

  12. If you go to the third bullet they talk about Astros interest in Jason Castro….
    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2020/12/free-agent-notes-mccann-angels-yankees-lester-castro.html
    They talk about him platooning with Maldonado which theoretically would have him playing more (because there are 3 times more righty pitchers than lefty pitchers). I would not be for that, though I would not mind him as a veteran backup getting starts once or twice a week

    Like

    • I’ll answer for Op, no on Castro.

      We have a lefty catcher backup, Dan. Stubbs.

      Set him loose, don’t be afraid. He’ll do just fine! Don’t look at small sample sizes but his body of work, and just trust that he can handle it for half a season& go from there. I believe in him 100%

      (Maldy could start 120 games anyway, he’s that durable.)

      Liked by 2 people

  13. i would feel more comfortable if we traded for or signed as a FA a proven starting pitcher. i like all of our good young pitchers, but there seems there is always an injury or 2 or 3 that throws a wrench in the works and a regression or 2 that shows up or just the amount of innings they throw compared to what they have done previously. i would say the same thing about the bullpen. i could go with a young CF such as straw or ?, IF tucker and brantley were the other two. a good back up catcher would be a wish as well.

    Like

      • rj, we’ve probably made offers and rescinded them as time goes on. Now that Rule 5 is over, they’ll do some sort of Winter cyber thing since it used to be “drinks with the boys”, instead they’ll be trying to start the phase of getting logistics squared away with minor league re-alignment. Getting managers in place in Ashville, and such.

        Some starters relievers catchers I’ve been talking about; Minor, Iglesius, McCann have all gotten deals we would NOT have paid! We can only offer and hope they want to talk more, but we’re not going to over-pay in this climate. A good case in point is HOU has always wanted Brad Hand. Now it appears we are not hot and heavy at all on him, because we have 4 solid lefty pitchers at a fraction of the cost. This probably means we won’t spend the money for OF, Eddie Rosario, which will be a disappointment and half the price of Brantley.

        I’m still open to Garrett Richards too, and some relievers like maybe Treinen? Whatever happens though, teams will probably be thinking how they can use their coaches to make their existing players better.

        In the case of Carlos Correa, we may end up paying Pena $600K in 2022, whereas Correa will command $23,600,000. If we save 23m on SS position, that’s money we can put in an Ace pitcher, or buy out some years early of Framber Valdez, like we captalized extending Bregman. That’s what we’re thinking about at every, single position in a financial freeze.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I want to resurrect a quote from the last post. “Elias’ former organization, one that is known for their ability to develop talented but flawed pitching prospects.” Now lets looks at the starters last year for the Yankees (Cole, Happ, Tanaka, Montgomery, Garcia, Paxton) with 2 home grown. Red Sox (Perez, Eovaldi, Mazza, Godley) -0- home grown. And the Orioles had 6 last year with 1 home grown. The Dodgers had mostly home grown. But most teams trade/sign for starting pitchers constantly.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Some thoughts about the Astros:
    *I see the drafting of Rivera as an affirmation of how good Astros pitching is going to be in the future. The Astros have 24 pitchers on their 40-man, have another half dozen in their top 30 prospects and had one guy they couldn’t protect and he got drafted in the first eight picks. This team is going to have pitchers.
    * So much babble about the Astros being on a downward turn. People are talking about the Astros as though they won’t be a factor, without any clue what is going to happen between now and Spring Training.
    *We have been talking about Springer, Brantley and Reddick’s contracts being all up at the same time for two years. Ever since Brantley signed with us we saw this was going to happen. Why in the hell does everybody not think the Astros saw this coming and have a plan? Like, do you know this is a team with a lot of foresight? I have no doubt in my mind the Astros will be good this year. Right, we all knew it was going to happen, but the Astros had no plan. James Click got the GM job because he had no clue what to do about our outfield. Two months till Spring Training. I bet the Astros have a plan. If they don’t, they know where to find me.
    * The culling of many minor league teams is going to speed up the process of the journey through the minors. Less teams, smaller drafts faster movement and direct association of MLB to MILB is going to streamline the entire minor league system. The product on the field will probably be better than any time in the history of minor league baseball. I finally see minor league players making a decent wage.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. More thoughts:
    *The Astros drafted two mid-20’s relief pitchers yesterday in the AAA draft. 1op wonders if the Astros will start to go to a starter/reliever pitching system in the minors, rather than a tandem. Maybe the consolidation of farm teams down to four per MLB team will have six man rotations in the minors and a similar relief setup to what the majors does. Going from 7 MILB teams to 4 per organization means that there is fixing to be a bunch of minor league players on the market. The activity in the AAA draft was teams going after players now, rather than competing for minor league free agents that start to flood the market.
    * There is going to have to be some avenue to replenish minor league teams(and MLB teams) when players get injured. If a guy goes down with an injury, there has to be some kind of pool to draw from, such as raising the number of eligible players per minor league team rosters. Otherwise teams would have to make moves in four different leagues to cover one injury.
    * There is only one top notch outfielder in the entire free agent market. George Springer is the Queen Bee. Every other one is a worker bee. Sorry, that’s how it is. Ozuna is streaky at the plate and is a DH in the outfield. Queen Bees rule. Worker bees work.
    * I guess I will have to convince myself that the Astros will just go after another ho-hum backup catcher for 2021 and then face the same damn thing in 2022 that they always face: trying to find a good catcher and a backup.
    It’s pretty much been the same thing during the entire history of the franchise. Oh, please don’t start with the Ausmus/Ashby stuff. The Astros have never had a “franchise” catcher. Nope, that guy was not a franchise catcher, so don’t bother.

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