Astros: 3 players bolstering depth in response to injuries
It was a Father’s Day to remember. The Houston Astros swept the best team of the American League Central in the Chicago White Sox; almost like changing the narrative of the 2005 World Series. Dallas Keuchel returned home, and while receiving a standing ovation heading into the dugout, the left-hander didn’t receive much help defensively or against half of the Houston reserves filling the lineup.
Sunday had everything in favor for the Astros. Lance McCullers Jr. tossed a quality start, home runs were mashed, a triple was ripped off Michael Brantley’s bat and the depth continued to excel against a top five rotation in baseball.
We know Chas McCormick; we know he’s been a reliable fourth outfielder more-and-more as the season progressed, so he will be left out of these recent three. The right-hander is slashing .259/.286/.630 with three homers in his last seven, and while Myles Straw is also bumping up his production, McCormick should still see more playing time down the stretch.
With key injuries circling the clubhouse, the Astros’ bench bolstered against the White Sox.
We have known about Abraham Toro’s versatility in the field, but in his return to the major leagues, the switch-hitter has excelled at the plate. Toro has mainly played at the hot corner with Alex Bregman on the IL, and while splitting time between matchups with Robel Garcia, don’t be surprised if he regresses to the mean.
The Astros have dabbled in replacements for Marwin Gonzalez’s departure, and they found a strong case in Aledmys Diaz, who has even played better than his predecessor. While Diaz is out for at least another month, Toro is helping fill his void. In three games, since he was recalled, the switch-hitter is 7-for-11 with one home run and five RBI. I’m drinking the Kool-Aid now on Toro, but he will eventually come off this call-up high.
The Astros claimed Robel Garcia off waivers during spring training, and since then, he has come with a few different narratives in his Houston tenure. While going from ‘who is this guy?’ to ‘the walk-off guy’ to ‘why is he playing?,’ Garcia has shown he can hit against right-handed pitchers and fill in where needed.
Recently in Minnesota, we finally saw the power that he holds, but he has also been quietly boosting his offensive line. Garcia was sent down earlier in the season to get more opportunities at the plat, but in his last seven, he is hitting at a .235/.222/.471 clip with a long ball and five RBI.
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His defense has gotten better, and along with Toro, they have a similar locker in regard to gloves they will wear.
The frustrations have been there, when watching the career of Taylor Jones. The right-hander has versatility in the field, but a chase-happy swing and an error against the San Diego Padres have stuck around with his reception.
Against the White Sox, we saw Jones go 2-for-5 in arguably the best game of his career. His usage has gown down with Toro and Garcia platooning, but he will stick around for now. Jones hasn’t had the major-league career that we had hoped thus far, but he should take advantage of at bats with Bregman, Diaz and Kyle Tucker down.
It was only one series against the best AL club, but we saw the bench show more production. We are witnessing a team take the next-man up mentality to another level in a 20-game stretch, and with Tucker hopefully returning on the road, these three will stick around with Garrett Stubbs being the odd-man out in Tucker’s return.
While now having the highest win percentage in the AL, the Astros are incomplete and still completed back-to-back sweeps. Sure, one was against a rebuilding Texas Rangers‘ team, but even with the White Sox battling injuries, the excuse can be made for Houston as well. The club travels to Baltimore for a three-game series starting Monday at 6:05 p.m. with Jake Odorizzi on the bump against left-hander Keegan Akin.