The recent news about how the Astros are approaching their Opening Day roster changes the perspective from the outside looking in.
Per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, the Astros appear intent to carry only 12 pitchers on Opening Day, as noted by manager A.J. Hinch. Both Tyler White and Tony Kemp, two key position players from last year’s 103-win squad, will likely end up on the Opening Day roster as a result. Jake Marisnick, another player speculated to be on the roster bubble, will also likely earn a spot on the active roster.
Although a departure from the usual set up, the Astros are facing the fact that White or Kemp may be claimed off of waivers if they don’t make the Opening Day roster. To be honest, I think that fear is justified as both are also out of options. While Marisnick saw his offensive numbers suffer considerably last season, the almost 28-year old outfielder likely remains the club’s best defensive outfielder. If the changes he made at the plate during the offseason takes hold, then it is plausible to see a rebound season from Marisnick.
In terms of the pitching staff, the Astros have a bit of flexibility due their schedule. In April alone, the club has four off days, which will help alleviate the need for additional pitchers. But once those off days are in the rear view mirror then the Astros will have some interesting roster decisions to make.
If the season started today, White would be the likely Opening Day DH with Kemp and Marisnick sitting on the bench. The Astros are known to value roster versatility, so it wouldn’t be outlandish to see Kemp and Marisnick in the opening series in Tampa at some point. Newcomers in Aledmys Diaz and Michael Brantley may also move around the lineup depending on the particular opponent. This roster flexibility is one reason why Marwin Gonzalez wasn’t a priority to re-sign during the offseason.