Houston Astros: Is this road trip a wake-up call for tough decisions?
By Eric Huysman
The Houston Astros have a problem and as most of you know, they have a problem winning away games recently. The team actually played very well in April away from Minute Maid Park, winning ten games out of twelve road games. However, the tide turned a little in May when they only won five of eleven road games.
June was not kind to the Astros, as they only won four of 14 road games. July was just as bad on the road for the Astros, as they won three of 13 games. Their play on the road in August has been pathetic and it has allowed the Angels and Rangers to creep up closer, as they have won one game out of seven.
Doing the math, the Astros have played 57 games on the road and have only won 23 games on the road all year. That’s 34 losses away from the friendly confines of MMP and a .404 winning percentage. That won’t cut it in the playoffs, especially if the Astros don’t have home field advantage.
The table below is more detailed splits from Baseball-Reference
While the Astros have scored more runs that their opposition on the road this year, much of that can be traced back to Crush City’s occasional blowout on the road. I could write a 3,000-word post going over all the stats recently, but I want to look at what can be done to fix the current issues with the Astros. But first, let’s take a look at what requirements are needed for a player to be eligible for the postseason.
Post Season Eligibility:
To be eligible to participate in the playoffs, a player must meet one of the following circumstances.
1) Be on the 25-man roster on August 31st (midnight)
2) On the disabled list
3) On the bereavement list
5) Can be added if another eligible player goes on the DL as long as that player was in the organization on August 31st.
To summarize, any player that the Astros want on the postseason roster must be on the team on August 31st. George Springer most likely will still be on the DL at the time so that he would qualify for postseason play. With a full 25 man roster now, some tough decisions need to be made soon to field the best team in the playoffs. On September 1, the roster can expand to a 40-man roster.
A Hitter I don’t want on playoff roster:
At the beginning of the year, I was the biggest Chris Carter fan after he hit 37 homers this year. I understand that A.J. Hinch thinks that he can change a game with one swing, but he has done very little this season besides drawing an occasional walk or his 17 homers. He is batting .180 with an OPS of .695 with 123 strikeouts.
Solution: Put Carter on waivers or designate him for assignment. Bring up Tyler White, give him a weeks worth of at-bats and if he’s not cutting it, bring up Jon Singleton. Singleton has more experience than White, but the Astros have to cut the cord with Carter. A real bold move would be to bring up A.J. Reed.
Two Pitchers Who Should be on the Playoff roster?:
The Astros are trying to save some innings down the stretch for Vincent Velasquez and Lance McCullers Jr. Both of these players have the arms to make a big impact on the 2015 playoff chase, however, there is no room on the pitching staff as it sits now. McCullers should be in the mix for the playoff rotation and Velasquez could use that arm of his in the bullpen.
Solution: Scott Feldman was good as a veteran arm on a young team, but if they want McCullers pitching in October, it’s time to let Feldman go. A team might claim him on waivers, or the Astros can work out a trade.
To get Velasquez on the roster will be a little harder after the trade for Oliver Perez. Instead of carrying Jake Marisnick on the playoff roster, you can get Velasquez in with Marisnick’s spot. You have to understand, Marisnick is already in danger with his bat and George Springer returning.
Should Luke Gregerson continue to struggle as the closer, maybe Velasquez and his power arm can take over as the closer. This will help him be productive while limiting the innings.
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Leave off playoff roster
Needs to be on playoff roster
White or Singleton
These are just the suggestions of one man, but I am not the general manager of the Astros. They have some tough decisions to make prior to August 31st, plus they also need to start winning again to even make the playoffs. In hindsight, maybe they should have traded for a closer. I don’t see the McCullers or Velasquez promotion till closer to the deadline to get more innings from Feldman. However, White would need to be soon to see how he can handle big league pitching.
Either way, this would be a bold move by the Astros to eat the salary of Feldman and give up on Carter. Will it happen, we will see soon?