In the ten games since George Springer landed on the DL, the Astros have eight losses. In those eight losses, the team has scored a combined 12 runs.
No team needed the All-Star break more than the Houston Astros. The team limped into the break, both figuratively and literally. The comfortable AL West lead that the Astros maintained for nearly three months vanished in a week. That’s baseball. A 162-game season is best described as a roller coaster, and Astros fans were having a blast on the ride until they were left hanging upside down at the break, wondering what’s going to happen next.
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After 91 games, the Astros are 49-42. We’re midway through July, and the Astros are TWO wins shy of the win total of the 2013 Houston Astros. And although that note is more of a testament to how historically bad the Astros have been, the organization has come a long way in a short period. Still, the team has shown some glaring holes that are not going to be solved within the Astros’ system this year.
Jul 1, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcherJohnny Cueto
throws against the Minnesota Twins in the second inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
According to FanGraphs, the Astros still have a 56.2% chance of making the playoffs as a wild card or division winner.
For that reason, this trade deadline is going to be very interesting. For the first time in the Jeff Luhnow era, the Astros won’t be sellers, but does that automatically make them buyers? The team is “ahead of schedule,” but does that mean they shouldn’t try to better themselves when they have a serious shot to contend?
Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh are a solid one-two punch, but Lance McCullers and the Astros will likely deal with an innings limit debate much like the one 2012 Stephen Strasburg faced with the Washington Nationals. Vincent Velasquez has already seen his innings restricted before the break because of his injury history. Scott Feldman should have a spot when he returns, but the Astros’ fifth spot seems to be up for grabs, unless of course a move is made.
Trades hurt – as they should – especially when they are made at the deadline. Imagine, though, a combination of Dallas Keuchel, (insert your favorite ace on a losing team), and Collin McHugh starting the first three games of a playoff series. A veteran pitcher will undoubtedly cost some combination of elite prospects or a string of lesser prospects, but may be the key piece in a successful playoff run.
Although the starting rotation is the buzz of most trade rumors, it is not the team’s biggest need at the moment. The offense, which was a strength early in the season, has suddenly become a weakness. When Jed Lowrie and George Springer return, it will be the equivalent of a blockbuster trade for the team and the line-up, but how long can the team afford to wait? I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Astros promote a player like Tony Kemp or trade one of the boom-or-bust sluggers creating a logjam in the current line-up for a player that gets on base more often.
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