Astros: Despite a quiet deadline day, the team will be fine
By Reed Graff
Despite being involved with several different players in the market, the Astros remained fairly quiet at the trade deadline. And that is fine.
The Astros had an interesting month in July. Stars Carlos Correa and George Springer both ran into some injury problems, with Correa requiring surgery on his thumb. Lance McCullers Jr. struggled in July, pitching past the 4th inning only once all month.
Meanwhile, Jose Altuve was playing out of his mind, finishing the month of July with a batting average of .368, largely in part to his .485 batting average in the month of July alone. The fan base wanted the team to make a big move, and when the Dodgers made the moves they did, including acquiring Yu Darvish, it became even more prominent that the team did not make the big splash that many of us were expecting.
The Astros did make a move in Monday, however, and I believe it was the right one.
I want to argue that the move we did make was a great one, and that the team will be just fine going into the latter half of the season. The only move the Astros made on deadline day was to send outfielders Nori Aoki and Teoscar Hernandez to the Toronto Blue Jays for LHP Francisco Liriano. When I first saw this trade, I was underwhelmed. After looking deeper and diving into the statistics, Liriano appears to be exactly what the Astros needed
While the 33-year old has underwhelming stats this season, his career numbers are nothing to spit at.
He has a career Era at 4.15. Throughout his career, lefties have hit only .221 against Liriano. This season, they are hitting .230 against the vet. Clearly, he was brought to Houston to be the lefty specialist in the wake of Tony Sipp‘s struggles this season. While he has spent most of his career in the rotation, Liriano will be a big part of the Astros pen going into the playoffs. He has plenty of experience, as he has been in major league baseball since 2005. So the trade for the big lefty was cheap, smart, and something we have come to expect from the analytical based Jeff Luhnow.
Frankly, Aoki was having a very Aoki-type season for the Astros.
Aoki’s consistent bat of the bench was valuable. However, the emergence of young prospect Derek Fisher allowed Luhnow to move Aoki and hand the left field job to the young Fisher. Fisher has not disappointed, hitting .317 with 3 home runs and an OPS of 1.014.
While it is still early in his career, Fisher has won the trust of Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch. He will likely be the main guy in left field for the remainder of the season, and his ability to do a bit of everything only makes this already potent offense even better.
With Correa and Springer on the DL, the Astros needed players to step up offensively.
Outside of Fisher, Several other Astros have done just that. Alex Bregman is hitting .353 in his last ten games, and the power numbers are starting to show up for him as well. The young infielder has moved back to short in the absence of Correa, and has continued the outstanding offensive production at that spot. He has hit 11 home runs on the season, and the ball is coming off his bat hard as of late, leaving him with many more doubles than he was getting earlier in the year.
Brad Peacock, Mike Fiers, and Charlie Morton have all pitched well, and their steady production has helped keep the teams lead in the AL West.
Next: Astros unable to trade for Britton
To finish this up, let me say this: The Astros are going to be just fine. The team leads their division by 16 games, and they are the best team in the American League by 10 games. Without Springer, Correa, Reddick, or Marwin Gonzales in the lineup Monday, The Astros dropped 14 runs on the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have onehave one of the better pitching staffs in major league baseball, so that is no small feat. We are still very serious World Series contenders, so get back on the bus, and lets go win this thing.
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and MLB.com**