The Houston Astros are one of the deeper teams in baseball this year.
Unlike many other teams, the Astros have not had to rely on young players in prominent roles this season. The Yankees have already called up their top guns in Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, plus they have had a revolving door of pitchers in the rotation. The Astros are 24 games over .500 at 52-28, and they still have a pair of aces up their sleeve if they need it.
With players such as Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker, among others, the Astros are built to continue replenishing the major league roster. While they may not have the high amount of top-100 prospects like the Braves and White Sox, but the system has one of the highest winning percentages in baseball. They say winning is contagious, which new players will bring with them after they are promoted.
As I wrote about earlier, Tucker is heating up in Triple-A. Before yesterday’s game, Astros GM and President of Baseball Operations Jeff Luhnow discussed the top prospects. Via Christian Boutwell, Luhnow used the term “decent likelihood” that Tucker will be up later this summer. On last night’s Talking Stros, we discussed when and why not now?
The question is, do the Astros need to bring up Tucker now?
Yes, we all know that Jake Marisnick is not having the season that we had hoped. While he has hit five homers, he is batting .176 and has struck out 63 times in 136 at-bats via Baseball-Reference. Despite how the fans feel, Marisnick still has value defensively and with his speed. If he had not been hurt in the playoffs, we could have seen him instead of Derek Fisher scoring the winning run in Game 5.
Tucker would have already been up if Evan Gattis hadn’t started hitting and Tony Kemp didn’t pan out with the Astros. There is not really a need for Tucker at the moment, just a desire to have him on this team. The Astros are leading the league in runs scored at 412 and have allowed the fewest runs at 246, via ESPN team stats. They are not looking for a quick fix for the roster to jumpstart the offense. That could be why they are waiting.
Maybe Whitely down the stretch as well?
Regarding Whitley, many people would think that his suspension would put him behind the eight ball. However, it may be a blessing in disguise as it saves potential innings for later in the year. On the Astros Radio broadcast, Luhnow said that they are limiting the number of innings of the minor league pitchers. He specifically mentions a player who was suspended, could see some time in September and October.
Looking at the Astros roster, it’s hard to find a spot that needs improvement. Tony Sipp has returned to his 2015 form, so they don’t need to trade for a left-handed reliever. I know this is contrary to what Jon Heyman keeps reporting about the Astros ties to Zach Britton. While Britton would be an asset to the team, is he that much of an upgrade over any other reliever?
What would be the cost?
The Astros bullpen is full of pitchers that they wanted on the roster, and outside of Joe Smith, they have stayed healthy. Who would Britton replace? What would it take to trade for Britton? How hesitant would the Astros be of his health concerns?
What if the Astros decide not to make a deal at the trade deadline, but instead, bring up Tucker and Whitely to pitch out of the bullpen. Instead of using those players to trade for a proven player, they may use them for September and October. While many fans are screaming for J.T. Realmuto, would you be okay with dealing one of the future stars for him? Whitely could do what Adam Wainwright, Roy Oswalt, and many others have done, get their feet wet as a reliever.
Baring an injury, there is not much need for any upgrades at the trade deadline. Things could change between now and July 31st, but the Astros can almost address any needs via the farm system. Maybe the Astros decide that they want to promote their top prospects instead of trading them away. Maybe they are called up to appease fans for the team not making a trade. It’s too soon to know what they will need.