The Houston Astros dismantled the Chicago White Sox on Thursday from big showings out of Jose Altuve and Abraham Toro. Altuve now has four home runs in his last three games and continues to boost his All-Star and even MVP stock.
On the mound, Jose Urquidy was lights out. The right-hander only allowed two runs on four hits and one walk over seven innings of the work. Five strikeouts were also tacked onto his quality start.
With Alex Bregman out an indefinite amount of time, we saw Garrett Stubbs return to the 26-man roster. You might wonder ‘why another catcher was added?’ Stubbs can play the outfield and second base as well, so this versatility is highly needed with Aledmys Diaz, Kyle Tucker and Bregman on the IL.
With Alex Bregman out, who deserves more starts at the hot corner?
Abraham Toro and Robel Garcia are similar players in the sense they have the exact same role in the field and at the plate. Toro was looking to be the second utility man behind Diaz to start the season, but the Astros claimed Garcia off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels during spring training.
At the time, it was a move to add more infield depth at Triple-A. Both players are on different options years per FanGraphs. Garcia is burning his final year of being optioned cleanly, and while bouncing around system to system, he needs at bats to keep his career alive. Toro stands in a different boat, while FanGraphs says he has three options left, the switch-hitter is making a strong case to be the utility man of the future.
Both Toro and Garcia are switch-hitters at the plate, which adds much more value than starting someone like Taylor Jones, who has limited experience at the position. We know Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa can also play at the hot corner, but with Diaz already injured, there is no need to move these two from their current positions.
I wrote about how giving Toro more at bats at the major league level would behoove the Astros last week, and after a 2-for-4 night against the best team in the American League, he stands a good chance of playing more often. Both players have a small sample size to compare to, but as switch-hitters, they can ruin matchups for pitchers.
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Garcia does have sneaky pop, but here is where I think the starter should be determined. Whenever the starter is left-handed, Toro should start and hit right-handed. This comes with the comparing of their career numbers against both pitchers. Garcia looks more comfortable in the box, while hitting left-handed too, so start Garcia against right-handed pitchers.
As a right-handed hitter against left-handed pitching, Toro is hitting .128/.226/.213 in career 47 at bats with Garcia hitting 107/.167/.286 in career 28 at bats. The sample sizes are small and that comes with a lack of opportunities, but Garcia is slashing .241/.295/.481 with an above average OPS as a left-handed hitter against right-handed pitching. Toro is slightly lower at .201/.280/.373. This could help differ who gets the start, but it could also dictate roster spots moving forward.
The Astros are back on the field on Friday at 7:10 p.m. with Luis Garcia matching up with left-hander Carlos Rodon, who has spoken out about the sign stealing scandal. With Dallas Keuchel returning home, there will be much to talk about when his start comes around on Sunday against his friend, Lance McCullers Jr.