While it is usually a good thing to have too many good players, as Preston Tucker found out Saturday, it can be bad for players. To give you a little background on the situation, Lance McCullers Jr. was to be recalled Sunday to pitch against Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers. McCullers was not on the 25-man roster, which meant that someone would be sent down or released to make room for the Astros number three pitcher. The most obvious choice would have been Chris Carter, but once again, he finds a way to ride the pine in Houston.
Following the game, Chandler Rome and many others Tweeted something that took most Astros fans by surprise. According to Rome, “Preston Tucker sent down as a corresponding move for McCullers.” What? Tucker is one of the hitters that has hovered around a .260 batting average with 12 home runs. Yes, he struggled against the left-handed pitchers. However, like Josh Fields, he is the victim of having options to go to the minors. Like Fields, this is not a demotion based on poor performance, it was needed to activate McCullers.
Unless there is an injury to an Astros player, Tucker has to stay down for the next ten days. This roster move would put him set to return when rosters expand in September. For those of you wondering if Tucker is now eliminated from playoff competition now that he will not be on the Astros 25-man roster, relax. Apparently there was a change in the rules for playoff eligibility. Ken Rosenthal tries to explain it in a way for us to understand here.
In the past: Players must have been on 25-man roster or DL on August 31st to be playoff eligible. A player can be replaced if injured by someone not on the 25-man roster, just in the organizations on August 31st.
New rule: Any player on the 40-man roster or DL on August 31st, is eligible for the playoffs. The roster must be set prior to a playoff series, and can’t change unless there is an injury.
Eureka, I know why the Astros did not DFA Carter instead of sending Tucker to Triple-A. The Astros are still waiting for Carter’s bat to break out before they part ways with him. How is he going to break out, he is not starting anymore and is not productive off the bench? I know Carter is a nice guy, but Matt Duffy, Tyler White, or A.J. Reed would be much more efficient on the 40-man roster. Let’s hope that Jon Singleton hits when he comes up in September and steals the roster spot of Carter.
According to Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Hinch mentioned that Tucker needs to get more consistent at-bats in Triple-A to improve the sharpness of his swing.
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The writing has been on the wall recently that an outfielder would be sent down with Marwin Gonzalez getting two straight starts in left field. Most Astros fans would rather have kept Tucker over Jake Marisnick on the Astros roster, but the decision makers with the Astros disagreed with this belief. On a playoff team, you need a speedster off the bench who can play great defense too.
This move is not goodbye for Tucker, but more likely we will see you soon. Tucker is still a big part of the 2015 Astros team, just not for the next ten days. The Astros need to go out and support McCullers in his return to the team by scoring off the reigning NL CY Young and MVP winner Kershaw. With the way the Dodgers are hitting right now, anything can happen today.