Astros: Comparing ALDS roster changes from 2019 to 2020
There are several differences in the Houston Astros ALDS rosters from 2019 and 2020.
With the fifth playoff appearance for the Astros in the last six years, the team has come a long way from franchise players to a whole new rotation and rookie bullpen. With the big losses of Gerrit Cole to free agency and Justin Verlander to Tommy John, the pitching core looks a lot different, but the one thing that stands out is the starting nine.
The Astros almost have the exact same starting nine as last year minus Yordan Álvarez and the addition of Kyle Tucker. Injuries and young talent made it an off year for Houston, but which new guys made the ALDS roster this season?
First, let’s talk about the departures from the 2019 ALDS Roster. Cole’s time in Houston didn’t end as planned. The two-year Astro was the last piece to finish a dynasty, but a controversial Game Seven move by AJ Hinch left him in a bad place with his future in Houston. The now-New York Yankee is currently in the opposite ALDS.
Next is Will Harris. Harris is credited with the Game Seven loss to the Washington Nationals in the 2019 World Series and then joined the Nationals in the off season. He became more of “Troll” than “Trill” after that move. Another starter gone is Wade Miley, who joined the newly playoff Cincinnati Reds.
Two bullpen guys that are still Astros but off the roster because of injury and opting out are Roberto Osuna and Joe Smith. To round out the pitching core, Héctor Rondón signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks after two decent years in Houston.
Secondly, let’s look at the position players. The Astros surprisingly only lost two position players this past offseason. The first was their every other day catcher in Robinson Chirinos, who signed back with the Texas Rangers. The second guy was “Big Fudge.” Stellar fielder Jake Marisnick was traded to the New York Mets, bringing in a great rookie lefty in Blake Taylor.
The New Guys
Now here are the additions from last season and the pitching core is heavily different. To start, the rotation has some new, young faces with Cristian Javier and Framber Valdéz. Javier had an amazing first half of his rookie campaign, but started to slip a little at the half way mark. Next is Valdéz, who has went up and down the last two years. He found himself this season and has been a crucial starter with the loss of Verlander and Cole.
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Moving to the pen, there are only two familiar faces with newly assigned closer Ryan Pressly and long reliever Josh “Flames” James. There are five rookie relievers and one veteran that have been added to the bullpen since last season. The rookies are Enoli Paredes, Andre Scrubb, Cy Sneed, Luis Garcia, and Blake Taylor.
The vet is Brooks Raley, who has been a journey man and is still technically a rookie. He was acquired from the Reds for a player to be named later. All of these guys have shown promise at some point, but a rookie pen can lead to struggles, especially in a nerve wracking game.
Moving on to the hitters, the catching core has added former Oakland Athletic Dustin Garneau and up and down player Garrett Stubbs. Don’t expect too much from these guys. They do not hold the same amount of defensive strong suits and power as Martín Maldonado.
Lastly, the addition of Abraham Toro is only there as switch hitting help, but his quiet bat the past two seasons have made him an up and down player. Also, the last and weirdest addition is outfielder Chas McCormick. He never played a game in the Major Leagues this season, but he made the cut.
The only change from the 2020 Wild Card Roster was the switch of Jack Mayfield for Garcia, as the Astros will need more pitchers for a longer series. So the starting nine looks the same, but a young bullpen and newly built rotation could be the death of the Astros 2020 playoff campaign.