Will the Astros have the catching depth necessary for the postseason?
On Sunday, the Houston Astros placed Jason Castro on the 10-day injured list with right-knee discomfort, as the catcher hits the shelf for the second time this season. The left-hander’s two injured list stints have come with no warning, while reports of him being sidelined never surfaced before the transfer.
As a corresponding move, Garrett Stubbs was recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land. Stubbs, who is the only optionable catcher on the 40-man roster, was recently out of the Skeeters’ lineup with a right-ankle sprain that never warranted a 7-day injured list stint.
Now, the Astros are left with Martin Maldonado, who has started over 70% of the games this season behind the dish. In relation to 2020, Maldonado started over 75% of the shortened season, while starting every game in the postseason except one.
The Astros have more reliable depth this season with Castro on the roster, and while a consistent platoon never came into effect, the left-hander is more effective than Dustin Garneau in 2020. With an expanded roster in the 2020 season, we saw more of Stubbs, but with Castro and Maldonado staying healthy this season, he has spent the majority of 2021 in Triple-A.
While the Astros’ catching room has the most question marks entering October, how reliable will the depth be this year?
The Astros’ three catchers are not climbing in the order, while their bats haven’t been bolstering the lineup. More recently, Castro has found some late-game hits worth noting, but no one is leaning on these three for postseason wonders:
Stubbs……………………. .182/.217/.227 (22 at-bats)
Statistics as of August 28
Stubbs will most likely see more major-league innings with rosters expanding to 28 players in September but possibly be left off a postseason roster. It all depends on need, and while Castro was sent back to Houston to be evaluated, his injury is retroactive to August 26, making him eligible to return on September 5.
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We don’t know the status of Castro’s health, but the left-hander is a for sure roster lock entering October. But the idea of him gaining more starts in the postseason is less likely with Jake Odorizzi and Luis Garcia not among the best four starting pitchers on the team.
While these two are who Castro catches the most often, the platooning has been neglected all season, even with personal catchers in effect. Maldonado has been the better defensive catcher, but with Castro healthy, the Astros should utilize their catching tandem in regard to pitching matchups at the bottom of the order this October.
The ball club is in a better situation with Castro as the backup instead of Garneau, but it would behoove manager Dusty Baker to not burn through a 35-year-old Maldonado early in October with a World Series push expected.
The Astros dropped their final contest of the weekend to the Texas Rangers. They will continue their road trip on Monday in Seattle at 9:10 p.m. with Luis Garcia countering right-hander Chris Flexen. On the farm, Jose Urquidy is hitting the bump again in a five-inning rehab assignment in Triple-A on Sunday, while Chas McCormick is nearing the start of his own rehab assignment.