The Astros are on a roll and finally look like the contenders we all expected them to be. But with the trade deadline looming, here are three approaches.
The Houston Astros have been the best team in baseball recently, and the offense seems to have clicked in with outbursts of big hits up in Colorado. Nevertheless, the goal is not to be the best team in mid-August—it is to be the last one standing at the end of October.
Houston has been relying on their surprisingly good, next-man-up pitching staff, and obviously Verlander’s return will seriously bolster their playoff chances, but the Astros must consider some upgrades at the plate if they want to punch their ticket back to the Fall Classic.
Houston arguably has the best lineup in baseball when healthy. But, as we all know, this season has been far from healthy. Yordan Alvarez is on the shelf for the year, leaving a massive hole in the middle of the lineup.
The trade deadline looms and the Houston Astros have some decisions to make
Alex Bregman is on the IL with a strained hamstring, an injury that never seems to have a quick recovery time. George Springer and Michael Brantley have missed a ton of games already in this short season with injuries. Aledmys Diaz is hurt so often he should buy a house in Corpus Christi.
And we all know the nagging injuries and unfortunate massage history with Carlos Correa. The point is Houston’s best lineups will more than likely not be available come crunch time in October. With this, and the likelihood of losing key players this winter, James Click and company may have some decisions to make in this win-now mode.
Let’s consider the options:
3. Stay put and trust the young guys.
If this were a week ago, I’d say this was non-option. But opinions can change when you see a barrage of runs.
There have been serious peaks and valleys in Kyle Tucker’s first stint as an everyday player, Abraham Toro has left a lot to be desired, and Myles Straw doesn’t strike me as someone who’ll heat up at the plate. Taylor Jones seems solid and played well in spring training, but he needs more at-bats to prove himself.
However, looking deeper into the numbers suggests that Tucker and Toro might be fine after all. Tucker has been barreling the ball more often and Toro’s hard-hit rate signals his .171 batting average is more unlucky than poor. If Houston can get the Colorado-version of Kyle Tucker and Abraham Toro more often, plus good at-bats from Straw and Jones, then the front office will not need to do any deals.