The start of the 2018 regular season is nearly one week away and the Astros still have a few roster decisions to make.
For the first time in many years, the Astros haven’t had many important position battles throughout spring training. Even last year, the championship season, was full of questions marks in regards to the starting rotation and the bullpen.
This year, however, the roster question marks have been seldom. Of course, this doesn’t mean that there were at least one or two roster spots of interest. Left-handed reliever was one. It has been recently discussed that the Astros could carry an all right-handed relief corps. Well, the latest injury to James Hoyt may have forced the Astros’ hand into carrying the lone left-handed reliever left in the major league camp: Tony Sipp.
Then there is the matter of first base and the occupant of the position until Yuli Gurriel returns. J.D. Davis and Tyler White are the two favorites as A.J. Reed was recently cut from the major league camp. Manager A.J. Hinch did speak highly of Reed, though. It may be a matter of (short) time before he is recalled from Fresno.
Only time will tell who wins the first base job.
This author is personally leaning towards Davis, but White is a solid player in his own right. By the look of things, it appears that the Astros’ decision may be a difficult one as both players have played well in spring training.
In other news, the Astros are likely to utilize both Brad Peacock and Collin McHugh in the bullpen to start the 2018 season. This tidbit comes of no surprise as both pitchers have been projected to be in the ‘pen since the beginning of the offseason. Quite frankly, the team’s plans became even more abundantly clear once they acquired Gerrit Cole from the Pirates.
The usage of Peacock and McHugh will be interesting to watch as both pitchers can throw in short- and long-relief. Hinch did give McHugh specifically a vote of confidence in this regard.
Barring an unforeseen injury, the starting rotation is set in the following order: Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Cole, and Charlie Morton. Alas, I wouldn’t not be in the slightest bit surprised if both Peacock and McHugh received starts during the 2018 season. The days of relying upon just five starters to make it through a season are over.
Looking ahead, the Astros are in an envious position. While other teams are still determining how to address roster deficiencies, Houston is one of the few teams without a notable weakness. There is a certain value in knowing what your team will look like in one week.