With Marcus Stroman now a Met, the Astros options to upgrade the pitching staff lessened. But do they really need a Syndergaard type pitcher to win it all?
The trade deadline is now just a few days away. The sports world and social media is all abuzz about what big name player is getting traded and to where. The fans of the Houston Astros are no different. Do they go after Noah Syndergaard? Should Kyle Tucker be included in a trade for a top tier pitcher?
Maybe they should just take a step back and look where they are right now. Does Houston really need to sacrifice top prospects or take on a big contract of another pitcher? The Astros have gone through a lot of adversity and have had several All-Star caliber players miss significant time this season. Well guess what? They’re still one of the best, if not THE best, team in the Major Leagues.
The Houston Astros are tied with the Yankees for the best record in the American League. Yes, New York’s win % is 0.003 higher, but in terms of games-back or games-ahead, they’re even. The only team in the Majors with a better record is the Dodgers and they are just one game up on the Astros. Houston even leads the Major League with 45 wins against teams with a winning record.
The amazing aspect of that excellent record is the fact that they did it with the core of their lineup missing a lot of games due to injuries. Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Aledmys Diaz were all out 30 games or more. There was actually a 21 game stretch when all four of those players were on the Injured List. There’s not too many teams that could withstand that.
Now let’s take a look at the pitching staff of the Astros. The three starters of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Wade Miley are probably the best 1-2-3 pitchers of any rotation in baseball. Those three starters are in the top 10 in the League in five or more statistical categories including ERA, ERA+, WHIP, WAR, and Hits/9IP.
Beyond the #3 starter in the rotation you have Brad Peacock and the recently added Jose Urquidy. Peacock will reportedly begin throwing a bullpen session today and will hopefully be activated and on the roster in the near future. When healthy, he’s a formidable #4 for any rotation and a nice asset as a long reliever when needed.
Jose Urquidy started out a little shaky but has been impressive in his last two starts. In 13 innings of work over those two games, he has allowed just two runs on six hits for an ERA of 1.38. Urquidy also struck out 15 batters against just two walks over that span. If he can continue anywhere near that pace, the Astros may have just found their fifth starter.
Looking into the crystal ball, the Astros will be getting Lance McCullers back next year to join the rotation. Re-signing Cole to an extension is a big question mark and Miley will also be a free agent after this season.
The entire Houston outfield will be a free agent or eligible for arbitration in 2021 and Correa will undoubtedly seek a significant raise going into next season . Will the Astros be able to afford to keep Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, Springer, and Correa?
The Astros current payroll is sitting near $204.7 million in estimated tax allocations. That leaves them approximately $1.3 million left before they hit the luxury tax threshold of $206 million. You know they’re going to have to lose one or two of those players, especially if they want to upgrade the catcher position.
Taking all of that into consideration, players like Kyle Tucker, Forrest Whitley, and Myles Straw all become that much more important to the future of the Houston Astros. Do they really want to risk losing top future prospects for an elite pitcher to win one World Series or keep that future intact for several Championship Rings down the road.