Will Max Stassi make the Astros playoff roster?
The Astros have 20 games remaining, including tonight’s series finale versus the Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball. They currently lead the Athletics by 3.5 games in the AL West, but they keep winning as well. With the remaining regular season schedule, you will see some players audition for the 2018 playoffs roster. A majority of the potential playoff roster is set, but there could always be a player who is a surprise addition.
We see that with rookies Josh James and Framber Valdez who are trying to show they deserve to pitch in the postseason. With Jake Marisnick healthy in 2018, do the Astros need to add Tony Kemp to the roster as well? Marwin Gonzalez should get the bulk of playing time in left field in October. Do they need the extra outfielder over let’s say a third catcher?
One thing that we know is that the Astros have a loaded roster and there will be some deserving players not make the playoff roster. They will take their best 25 players to Cleveland or wherever the first round destination is. With all the players who could make the team, where does Max Stassi fit on the roster?
Three catchers in October?
When the Astros acquired Martin Maldonado, Jeff Luhnow mentioned that he expected to carry three catchers on the postseason roster. At the start of the season, it appeared that he would eventually become the primary catcher. He was finally showing the pop that he demonstrated in the minor leagues. When Brian McCann hit the DL with knee discomfort, Stassi was the primary catcher.
The extra playing time exposed Stassi more, and the league learned to adjust to him. In the first half of the season, Stassi batted .253 with seven homers and 24 RBI. So far in the second half, Stassi is only batting .173 with one homer and three RBI. Stassi had 162 at-bats in the first half but has only had 53 in the second half. The emergence of Maldonado has decreased Stassi’s playing time now that McCann has returned.
Stassi has only come in as a defensive replacement after McCann or Maldonaldo were pinch-ran for late in the games. He has not had an at-bat since he went 1-2 on August 29 versus the Athletics. While his pitch framing has received high praise this year, he struggles at preventing stolen bases and is the third best catcher on the team defensively. If Stassi bat is not hot, he is a liability on the field.
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The hot hand.
Back in early September, Hinch said that he would go with the hot hand for when to play who at catcher. McCann is still trying to get his bat speed up following missing a large chunk of the season. Maldonaldo got off to a slow start but has improved with more playing time and confidence. If Stassi were going to play in October, you would think that Hinch would try to get him some playing time.
I know that logic tells you that you need that third catcher just in case, but we have Evan Gattis as an emergency option. The Astros don’t seem interested in seeing him catch anymore, but he could be available in the offseason. With Tyler White‘s hot play recently, it is not guaranteed that Gattis makes the postseason roster. Spoiler, Gattis will be on the postseason roster.
If you asked me, I would rather have Kemp on the roster versus Stassi. Kemp won’t start much in the postseason, but he could be a valuable player off the bench with his ability to make contact. Kemp could offer speed and another defensive option behind Marisnick.
We saw the Astros carry Cameron Maybin and Derek Fisher on the playoff roster last year as back up outfielders. You also saw them carry Juan Centeno who didn’t play much in October. The difference this year will be getting White onto the roster, which could mean you don’t carry the third catcher. We have a while till we know, but it’s definitely something to monitor.