Houston Astros: Five players on the playoff roster bubble

Here are five Houston Astros players on the playoff roster bubble.

At this point, I’m making the dangerous assumption that the Houston Astros will indeed make the playoffs. It’s still not a certainty yet, although they are in position to make it if they can just win a game or two. But even though I’m tempting fate by doing so, I’m going to think and write about what the playoff roster might look like anyway.

Plenty of players are locks to make it already. On the position player side, regular starters Martin Maldonado, Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley, George Springer, Kyle Tucker and Josh Reddick will be there. Dustin Garneau will make the roster as well, as will Aledmys Diaz and Myles Straw. I also think Jack Mayfield’s defensive versatility gets him a spot.

On the pitching side, we’ll have Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, Cristian Javier, Ryan Pressly, Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes, Andre Scrubb and Brooks Raley. Thanks to his recent hot streak, I think Josh James will be on there, and I think the upside of Luis Garcia will be there as well.

That’s 12 position players and 12 pitchers, for a total of 24. With rosters remaining at 28 through the postseason, that leaves four spots unfilled. Who’s in contention for those final spots?

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Abraham Toro

The Astros are currently carrying 14 position players and 14 pitchers. For the playoffs, I think there’s a chance they carry an extra pitcher. That would leave one of their extra infielders (Toro or Mayfield) on the outside looking in, as Diaz will already be on the roster as the primary backup. Toro hasn’t played since Sept. 13, and Mayfield since Sept. 15, so they don’t necessarily need both.

Mayfield has the greater defensive versatility, while Toro has greater offensive upside. I doubt the upside helps much given that Toro has struggled just as badly as Mayfield at the plate, so my money is on Mayfield. He’d be more useful in the event of an injury, which is the only situation in which either one of them would see any playing time in the postseason.

Garrett Stubbs

Could the Astros carry a third catcher? If they keep their roster at 14 position players, it’s entirely possible they drop one (Toro or Mayfield) in favor of Stubbs. It’s never a bad idea to have that extra catcher, and he can also serve as an emergency outfielder and pinch runner. He’s had only 10 plate appearances this year and hasn’t impressed, but he still has some value.

Cy Sneed

It’s been a rough go of it for Sneed, but at least he’s been on the active roster all year, which cannot be said for many Astros pitchers. Still, prior to his scoreless inning on Wednesday, he hadn’t pitched in 10 days and had been scored upon in each of his previous four outings.

I think he’ll probably make the roster anyway thanks to his experience, but he hasn’t exactly kept Dusty Baker’s trust. Maybe the Astros go with someone else who could be used in a certain situation or who has better upside. Sneed just isn’t someone who could pitch except in garbage time.

Brandon Bielak

It was a swift fall from grace for the rookie, who had a 1.69 ERA through mid-August and was promptly shelled in his next three starts. He won’t be part of the rotation unless a rash of injuries hits the team, and he’d probably only pitch if the team is really far ahead or really far behind. He may make the roster anyway for lack of better options, but I wouldn’t consider his spot secure.

Cionel Perez

This is an intriguing name to watch. Perez put up a 2.84 ERA in seven major league appearances this year, though he had an unsightly 2.053 WHIP, suggesting he allowed far too many baserunners and got out of a few jams. But I’d consider him a candidate simply for the fact that he throws lefthanded and has some upside.

Taylor is more of a setup man than a lefty specialist, so Raley is the only pitcher on the roster who’d be deployed almost strictly against lefthanded hitters. If the Astros are facing a team with a few lefthanded bats, and especially if they carry an extra pitcher, Perez could be useful.