Houston Astros: Catching Up With the Catching Situation

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Mar 5, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros catcher Max Stassi (12) swings at strike three during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the New York Mets at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros catcher Max Stassi (12) swings at strike three during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the New York Mets at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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A Look At the Houston Astros Catching Turnover

The Houston Astros have now played two games without starting catcher Jason Castro, who is on paternity leave. A player on paternity leave can miss up to three games, doing the math that means that Castro will return Friday to catch Collin McHugh versus the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. While Castro is set to return, this means that one of the current catchers will be leaving Boston.

When Castro was put on the paternity list, Max Stassi finally made his 2016 appearance on the Astros roster. When Hank Conger was traded, Stassi was gift-wrapped the backup catching job after years of waiting. Unfortunately, the injury bug struck Stassi during spring training as he had a fracture in his left wrist. Stassi was once a touted prospect, but injuries have held him back. 

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Stassi made his debut in yesterday’s 16 inning win against the Indians going hitless with two strikeouts before being replaced by Eric Kratz after Tyle White pinch hit for Stassi. When Stassi went down, the Astros immediately went out in search for a backup catcher. The best they could find was Kratz through a trade with the Padres.

Evan Gattis‘ everyday status could be in jeopardy, so the Astros did the smart thing and started getting Gattis ready to be potentially the backup catcher. Gattis lost some weight this offseason to get back on the field. Gattis is currently on a ten-day minor league assignment to help his stamina as a catcher with the Corpus Christi Hooks. He should be returning in the next week, but will he be the official backup catcher?

Should he be the backup catcher, it is unlikely that Stassi would be on the 25-man. When Castro returns, there is a strong chance that we have seen the end of Kratz’s time with the Astros. I’m not going to badmouth Kratz here, but his offensive game is not at the major league level right now. He served his purpose, and he was about to be DFA by the Padres at the time of the trade. We will always have the memory of his first and only hit this year, that booming bunt.

Stassi’s stay with the Astros may not be a long one when Gattis returns, but I would keep him instead of Kratz when Castro returns tomorrow. I rather bank on the upside of Stassi instead of the floor of Kratz where he stands right now. It would make things interesting if Stassi all of a sudden starts hitting, but will the Astros be so bold to rely on Gattis to be the true backup catcher so they can keep an actual hitter with the team. I’m tired of a backup catcher with no bat behind Castro.

Next: Jose Altuve Makes a Bid for the 30-30 Club

I missed the good old days when I could check the minor league box scores and see how well Stassi was doing following the trade to the Astros. I’ve been counting on him taking over for Castro for many years now. Who do you think goes when Castro returns tomorrow?

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***

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