Astros: Five players who must step up in ALDS against Oakland

Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Here are five Houston Astros players who need to step up if the team is going to defeat the A’s in the ALDS.

The Houston Astros are awaiting the division rival Oakland A’s in the ALDS beginning Monday. It’s an intriguing series, to be sure, and it’s not going to be easy. There are several players who didn’t have a big impact in the Wild Card round that will need to step up their game if the team is to advance to the ALCS for a fourth straight year.

Zack Greinke

Greinke started Game One of the Wild Card round and will likely start one of the first two games of the ALDS. He gave up one run in four innings, which isn’t bad, but the Astros need more. They’ll have to manage their pitching staff differently, so manager Dusty Baker is going to need his starters to go deeper than four innings. Greinke also struggled in September and needs to put that behind him and settle into a groove.

Jose Altuve

Altuve had a huge bases-loaded walk to give the team the lead in Game One against the Twins, but he actually went hitless in the series — 0-for-7 with a pair of walks. We all know the struggles he’s had at the plate this year, but it would be insanely satisfying to see him break out in the playoffs and hit like the batting champion we know he is.

Alex Bregman

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Bregman hasn’t been right since he returned from his hamstring injury, and he was 1-for-7 with two walks in the Wild Card round. He was excellent on defense, however, with a pair of fantastic plays on slow rollers in the first game. He’s a legitimate MVP contender when he’s his usual self, and the Astros need that big bat to produce if they’re going to win the ALDS.

Yuli Gurriel

Gurriel, who is now re-signed through next year, has been battling a hand injury for a few weeks and had an awful September. He was 1-for-8 in the Wild Card round while hitting between Kyle Tucker and Carlos Correa, both of whom were productive. The Astros need him to drive in some runs if the offense is going to be at its best.

George Springer

While Springer hit quite well in September, he was just 1-for-9 against the Twins. That one hit was an important one as it drove in a run, but the Astros need more. This ALDS is going to be a fight, and after the offense struggled so much down the stretch, they need their spark plug to start things off on the right track.