What will they do? What should they do?

It hardly seems possible, but the 2021 regular season is rolling into its final six weeks. The Astros are floating just above the Oakland A’s in the AL West, surging ahead and then falling back with inconsistent play.

 

Besides the two-man increase in rosters for September, there are “potentially” a couple of big decisions to come. But the increase from 26 to 28 is a subject for another day. Today we will concentrate on a couple of personnel use questions. They are “potential” decisions because they are both tied to injury recoveries for players who have struggled with that this year.

The Return of Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman – By the time this is posted, Yuli may already be announced for tonight’s lineup. Bregman’s return is not as sure, though the party line is that he will re-start his rehab in Sugar Land this next week and return to the team at the end of August.

Question – The biggest question here is what will be the potential reduction of Aledmys Diaz‘s playing time? Since his return from the IL on July 27, Diaz has been one of the best offensive weapons on the club, slashing .350 BA/ .371 OBP/ .954 OPS with 9 runs scored, 5 doubles, 3 HRs and 14 RBIs. With Bregman out that whole time and Gurriel out the last 10 days or so, Diaz has played in every game in his return, which is not something that has occurred in his stint with the Astros. And he’s played good defense at 3B and 1B with the two starters out (not at the same time wise guys and gals).

What They Will Do – This is a tough situation as the Astros already have the DH fully covered between Yordan Alvarez and Michael Brantley. As far as what they will do? They will have Yuli and Alex as their “regular” 1B and 3B. But I think they will rotate Diaz around to get 3 or 4 starts a week between 1B, SS, 3B and DH. And the bonus is that on games where he is on the bench, they will have an actual dependable bat in reserve to toss out there for the catcher or for the pitcher in NL road games (OK – only three of those left this season).

What Should They Do – Your turn – Whatcha think?

The Return of Jose Urquidy. This is Urquidy’s second stint on the IL, having missed a couple of weeks in May with a similar shoulder issue. They believe he will return at the beginning of September. It is hard to remember back that far, but after a so-so April, Urquidy was 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA in May and June. If you drop that one loss (4.1 innings and 6 runs allowed), he was a sparkling 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA in the other 8 starts.

Question. The question is, where does he fit when he returns, and that question encompasses the starting rotation and the bullpen? Do they extend the rotation to a six-man squad to take the wear and tear off some of the members? Do they slide one of those starters who has not performed well (Jake Odorizzi) into the bullpen? Do they put Urquidy in the bullpen as a longer option? He had success there in both the 2019 and 2020 postseason, starting some and relieving some. The bullpen is not hurting like it was a few weeks ago, but it might make sense for someone who has been to the IL twice this season.

What They Will Do – It might be tough for the Astros to go to a six-man rotation when there are some days off in September. Pitching on the seventh day might make them seem rusty. A better guess is they might slide Urquidy into Luis Garcia‘s spot as that youngster will be pitching way beyond the number of innings he has ever had to pitch in a season. Or they might just decide to go tandem him up with Garcia or one of the other starters that they might hold to 4 or 5 innings in a start.

What Should They Do – Again, what do you think they should do with Urquidy, when/if he returns?

52 comments on “What will they do? What should they do?

  1. If Urquidy comes back as strong as he was last year, the Astros brass have a pretty nice problem to have. It all depends on Ordorizzi and his next start and Garcia hitting his innings limit, I guess you gotta wait and see with those two guys.
    Did I mention how much I LOVE grand slams?!! WOW JUST WOW Jake Meyers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think they should give Aledmys at least five starts per week. Let him give a day off to our regulars at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and DH.

    I think when Urquidy comes back they should let him ramp up slowly in the bullpen and replace Javier, Maton, Taylor or Stanek who each have options available; unless he replaces an injured pitcher (hopefully not).

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  3. Two nice wins in a row against the Angels. It was obvious which team has a better defense. A couple weak throws cost the Angels runs. Then we have Castro. Yes, some pitches were in the dirt but one was muffed right over the plate. And it was sad that Meyers got two home runs and the grand slam. Under the”Dusty Rules” he will have to rest for at least one game.

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  4. I’m not really expecting much from the return of Alex Bregman. I think he needs the offseason to get things right. Giving my “I’m on the internet so clearly I’m an expert” opinion, I’d do less of the MMA inspired training and rethink the diet. Anecdotally, my playing days ended due to an injury to my shoulder. In my first day of rehab with the PT we discussed the weight lifting exercises I should be doing and which needed to be avoided at all cost. Certain exercises put unnatural stress on your muscles and joints during ranges of movement that will never come into play during a baseball game. The only thing they do is encourage adding bulk and straining tendons…so it’s better to avoid those. Much like George Springer, I’m not sure Bregman is a guy you can tell to give it 80% effort out on the field and actually expect it to happen. That makes fully recovering and getting back into a groove difficult. I’d try to leverage Diaz’ strong play and give Bregman more rest between now and October.

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  5. Work towards full health. The big goal still needs to be best record in the AL. Get Bregman back, only if he’s 100%. No need to play him everyday. Get Urquidy back. Reduce Garcia’s innings. Keep Diaz and Meyers active. Keep winning baseball games.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. * Diaz is raking against LHP. I think that is something to keep in mind as the season winds down and the team wants to give some players a rest.
    * I love the idea of alternating Brantley and Alvarez playing LF. It satisfies the need for their bats in the lineup and gives them some rest as the DH every other game and it keeps them in good practice playing in the field every other game. It also gives our young CFers the needed time to adjust to both of their fielding capabilities on plays that the two LFers can or cannot make.
    * My thoughts on Urquidy is to not worry about what to do with him, because the way the Astros have been hit by one IL visit after another, something will happen to someone else by the time he returns. If, by some miracle, no one else goes down, you make the right move with sending someone who is struggling to the IL or to Sugarland and plug in Urquidy wherever he is needed.
    * If Alex Bregman ever returns, Jacob Wilson has 3 options remaining, so there is a move that is readily available to make room on the active roster.
    * Tucker didn’t need the off days, as it turned out.

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  7. The Blue Jays have lost 3 in a row to the AL West fourth place Angels and third place Mariners.
    Springer got hurt last night trying to make a play at the wall that was virtually unmakeable, because of where he was and where the ball hit on the wall. He landed very awkwardly and sprained his left ankle.

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  8. We were visiting my mom in Tomball yesterday which always involves sitting around the kitchen table, reminiscing and eating some take out Goodson’s comfort food. So I followed the game on my phone and watched some fast forward highlights this morning.
    Thoughts:
    – Ironic they lose one of their top producers in Tucker and his replacement, Jake Meyers, was the offensive star
    – Meyers would not have gotten a grand slam, but Yuli got a terrible jump on Castro’s hit and had to hold up at 3rd.
    – What I loved about Meyers hitting last night is every thing was up the middle or towards right field – no overt pulling of the baseball. His initial home run was a bit of a moon shot straight to center that just carried and carried. Second time up he hit one within a step of the fence just to the right of center field. Third time up he hit a classic Carlos Correa-ish slashing home run the other way to right field – hit pretty close to where Tucker’s slam went Friday. Last time up was his “weakest” effort about 10 feet short of the warning track in center.
    – Garcia had the trouble in the first and then toughed out 5 innings and a win.
    – Ohtani is a stud – no other way to say it, though last night was the exception as the Astros usually control him pretty well
    – The bullpen pitched with no pressure, but each of them held the line with 4 scoreless innings between Raley, Taylor, Maton and Yimi Garcia. Garcia bookends last night

    The team needs to show some killer instinct and sweep a team when they are down today.

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  9. The story of that game was Altuve, Correa and Gurriel were 0 for 12 . Look no further.
    Toronto and Texas gave us free food and we gagged.

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  10. Lance talking about being victimized by soft contact again yesterday. I hate excuses from a professional. 108 pitches and he can’t get through six innings. He only walked one guy, but it was Jack Mayfield with Ohtani coming up next. That sure helped screw up his day and mine too.

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  11. Ok – I know I don’t come down on Lance as hard as everyone else, but let’s look at the last two games.
    Saturday – Garcia gives up 2 runs in 5 innings – 6 hits 5 Ks – gets the win
    Sunday – Lance gives up 2 runs in 5.2 innings – 6 hits 8 Ks – gets the loss
    I know that we want Lance to be an inning workhorse, but it is just not going to happen. But if he gives up 2 runs in 5.2 innings every time out – I will take that and we will win a lot more than we lose.
    His pitch counts drive me crazy too, but he has pitched very well this season and while he is not an ace, he is a solid 2 or 3 in my book.

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    • Agreed. Getting o-fers from the lead-off hitter, the #3 hitter, and the #5 hitter, and the entire offense throwing up a .000 BA with RISP made anything Lance did irrelevant. And while the Angels weren’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball most of the day, two ‘hustling extra bases’ that ‘ they [Gosselin and Ohtani] took in the heat earned them the win. Let’s face it – like most day/get-a-way games, our guys sleepwalked through it. The Angels wanted to play baseball; our guys wanted to catch a plane..

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      • And we were only flying to KC while the Angels had to fly all the way to NYC after the game.
        Must have wanted to get in and have some KC steaks

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    • Agree with you on LMJ. He’s pretty much a strike out pitcher and not a contact hitter. One of the reasons he throws a lot of pitches. He averaged 4.32 pitches to each batter. Detmers averaged 3.78 and that was with that 11 pitches to Jake. As for the Astro hitters, fishing is good on a lake, stream, or pond but highly inappropriate as a hitter. Odds are pretty slim you’ll (catch) hit anything.

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      • Of course, part of the higher pitch-per-out numbers for McCullers comes from the fact that the Angels’ whole strategy appeared to be to make him throw them two strikes before swinging. He obliged a lot, but after the third inning he didn’t have enough left, in the intense heat, to put anyone away. Meanwhile, the Astros were all swinging wildly at everything thrown at them, no matter what the count. They made young Detmers look like Cy Young.

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      • I’m kind of torn on this Daveb – if it is “woe is me” whining I’m not for it. If it is simply “I’ve analyzed what happened and I am not going to make some major change to my game plan and pitching process because they didn’t launch 4 home runs (like some teams have done against Odorizzi and Greinkie) and they weren’t hitting me that hard” – well that would be OK.

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      • Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool? I figured someone else here might add Mary MacGregor to the conversation so I beat them to it. Dan, no argument from me. I guess I have higher expectations of LJM, and maybe he’s already going in that direction on the mound. But in some respects, I think he’s still emotionally younger than guys like Garcia and Urquidy.

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      • It is part of the “art” involved with dealing with people and star athletes. There were lots of times when I thought George Springer was over-amped and swinging out of his shoes. But part of that was what made him great. Brantley has a completely different approach and it is successful for him. Yes, I wish that Lance was calmer, but for some of these guys (picturing Roger Clemens getting overly fired up) they aren’t built that way.

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  12. To me, Detmers had good stuff and was impressive as a 22 year old rookie making only his 3rd MLB start.

    The umpire had a strike zone that was a bit wide, but it helped both sides.

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  13. Astros vs. Royals – on paper – offense:

    They are 26th in the league in runs scored; the Astros are 1st.
    They are 14th in team BA; the Astros are 1st.
    They are 27th in team OBP; the Astros are 1st.
    They are 2th in team OPS; the Astros are 2nd.

    Astros vs. Royals – on paper – pitching:

    They are the 8th worst team in runs allowed; we are the 5th best.
    They are 24th in the league in team ERA; we are 4th.
    They are 3rd from worst in team WHIP; we are the 8th best.

    Unfortunately, what’s on paper doesn’t count in the grass and dirt between the white lines. Also unfortunately, our guys have a really bad habit of playing down to the level of our competition.

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  14. In case anybody still cares about Josh James’ rehab assignment, he has now thrown 13.1 innings in the Milb since coming off the IL on August 2. The good news is that he has struck out 19 batters in that span. The bad news is that he has given up 13 hits, issued 7 walks, and hit 3 in the process. His WHIP is way too high at 1.50, and minor leaguers are somehow hitting .245 against him. Not encouraging.

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    • Anytime someone throws 100, you want to give him every chance to succeed. He’s 28 now though and as a 34th round pick, he was a longshot from the start. I wonder how hard he’s throwing these days?

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    • I care! He’s one of the guys I was hoping could contribute to a playoff run. I guess there is no rush for any player who is getting paid major league salary for a whole year of minor league rehab.

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  15. One thing I have noticed this year with “rehab assignments” – AA and AAA hitters have no problems hitting major leaguers’ pitching. That goes from Severino to Urquidy to John Means to multiple others.

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  16. Saw where Brandon Crawford of the Giants signed a two year extension for 32MM (16+16). I see Correa is hitting a whopping .228 in his last two games. His stock is dropping IMO. Hope Odorizzi is on his game and the offense shows up tonight.

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    • So far, it is only a “hope” with Odorizzi. The defense has bailed him out, but when you fail to cover first in a hurry, when you do not look at a runner who is a successful stealer, then it starts to look bad this game also. Let’s hope it gets better.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. It’s clear Odorizzi can’t stay in this rotation. I think all of us were hoping he had turned the corner, but like I said clearly he hasn’t. When Urquidy gets back (please soon!) it will be time to make some major decisions about Jake.
    I don’t know if Click was tricked into signing him because of Urquidy being hurt, or if he saw something we don’t. But at this point he is hurting this team.

    Liked by 2 people

    • They didn’t say (TK & Blummer). Both were wondering what was going on. At least he did double. Bull pen collapsed tonight, save for Maton, and Odor -izzi stunk it up again (5.1IP and 4 runs).
      What is it with the Astros inability to beat last place teams?

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Is this the team that will get all happy and healthy and enthusiastic and reel off 10 or 12 in a row and take ownership of the AL, or is this the bunch that will continue to play crappy baseball 2 or 3 three times a week and add to my growing apathy?

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Dave, these guys are not exactly inspiring. They all look tired and bored – and not the least bit hungry.

    As for last night, one would have thought that the win-loss records were reversed, and the Royals were the ones with twenty more wins. Our pitching was absolutely atrocious; theirs was not great, but significantly better than ours. Our base-running was just embarrassing; theirs was alert, aggressive, and well-executed. Their offense was well-planned, patient, steady, and relentless; ours was hit-or-miss, all-or-nothing, haphazard, and uninspired. Their aging catcher can still play a respectable game – and do major damage on offense; the guy we put behind the plate last night is completely done defensively and hanging on by a frayed thread offensively.

    Meanwhile, one flash-in-the-pan game notwithstanding, Jake Meyers is struggling to catch up with even below average major league pitching. Tucker had better hurry back, because without him this offense is anything but elite.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think there is reason for concern, but there isn’t a clear solution. It’s August and things have to be a bit strange for the club. Players are available or unavailable due to strange, pillow inflicted injuries, stints on the health and protocol lists, etc. Our bullpen is doing what most bullpens do, but at least we have a few options out there now. Our starting pitching isn’t in great shape, but at least we’re not paying Cole Hamels not to pitch for us. I usually say this about football, but I think the teams that are lucky enough to be healthy the first week of October will have a huge advantage this postseason.

      This will be interesting as Houston is going to (I assume) make the postseason with two catchers hitting below the Mendoza line. It would potentially be advantageous to DH for the catcher and let Greinke hit in his starts.

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