The Houston Astros went through an extended stretch of games where their starting pitching was near the best in baseball.
The Astros were facing several around .500 caliber teams. They climbed to within 2.5 games of the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, but now they find themselves six games back. The Astros have gone through a rough patch this past week, but they are not out of the playoff hunt. Do they need an upgrade in the rotation or in the batting lineup?
On this week’s Talking Stros, we talked a lot about the trade deadline and even had Jake Kaplan join the show. Here are a few of the questions that we asked Kaplan throughout the show.
Talking Stros: What’s the biggest need for the Astros on the eve of the trade deadline?
Kaplan: The biggest need right now for the Astros is starting pitching, especially because the guy you are going to be trading for will be under control beyond this year. We will probably have a hole in the rotation because I expect Doug Fister to get paid more somewhere else. If you say that player is Joseph Musgrove, you can still use an upgrade to Mike Fiers. There are rumors out there that they are starting to look at bats too. This wasn’t the case a few days ago but after a bad week of offense, maybe there is some desperation there.
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Talking Stros: Does Luhnow seem like the type of person who would be reactionary and panic after a bad weekend offensively?
Kaplan: No he doesn’t, but I think that you can make an argument that they could use another bat before this weekend. For a while, the argument was that we have Alex Bregman and Yulieski Gourriel coming. They could really use a major league proven guy, especially the way Colby Rasmus has tailed off since April. Many bats are not producing and losing Luis Valbuena is part of that too. The deadline is usually the time that they make the decisions on what they need, it just so happens the deadline falls at a time where they have had their worst week in a while.
Kaplan: I don’t see them moving Springer to center field in the middle of the season. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I haven’t heard anything on Beltran until this Buster Olney Tweet a little while ago, he’s plugged in everywhere, but especially in New York where he used to work. It would be an interesting move considering Beltran’s past here. They would probably have to give up less for him than other controllable hitters. Valbuena should move to first when Gurriel is ready which should help the offense, but you have Marwin Gonzalez hurt now too who has played good. The Astros were one of the healthiest teams all season, the injuries happened close to the deadline.
We talked to Kaplan more about the trade deadline but you can listen to the rest, including who he said that he thought the Astros would trade for. A hint, he said he thinks the Astros are going for a controllable pitcher who is not Chris Sale. He also thinks that the Astros will be going after a reliever, who does he think their targets are?
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***