With October nearing, the Houston Astros are starting to plan out their roster for the ALDS. The team hasn’t clinched a postseason spot just yet, but with a magic number of four, the Astros are in a good place to start planning.
The Chicago White Sox are the likely foe for the Divisional Series, as the Tampa Bay Rays remain in the one seed with a 2.5-game lead on the Astros. At this point, the Astros could fare nicely against a struggling White Sox team (4-6 in their last 10), who has worries in their rotation with Carlos Rodon’s status.
The postseason is right around the corner, but who will be joining the Astros’ ALDS roster?
Starting pitchers (4): RHP Zack Greinke, LHP Framber Valdez, RHP Lance McCullers Jr. and RHP Jose Urquidy
In the postseason, we start to see the rotation thin, as the idea of a six-man is no longer in the discussion. Of the Astros’ options, Greinke, Valdez, McCullers and Urquidy are the best options with Luis Garcia and Jake Odorizzi on the outside looking in.
Garcia has been on a pitch count more recently, and even though Odorizzi found a rhythm before his injured list stay, the right-hander isn’t better than the others listed. These two could be viable piggyback options in October.
Relief pitchers (8): RHP Luis Garcia, RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Brooks Raley, RHP Ryne Stanek, RHP Yimi Garcia, RHP Ryan Pressly, RHP Kendall Graveman and RHP Phil Maton
A 13-man pitching staff doesn’t look like the path for most teams entering the postseason, as in years past, the roster was 25 and then 28 in 2020. With 26 players on the roster now, leaving the pitching staff at 12 seems substantial, as not many arms will be used.
This does leave out Cristian Javier, who has struggled with walks this season. The right-hander currently sits at three walks per nine innings, while his ERA has been below 3.30 this season in 97 innings of work. With Luis Garcia and Odorizzi on the roster, the long-relief roles are filled, as Javier has taken on as much high-leverage as of late either.
Phil Maton looks to be a last man in, while Blake Taylor could also be an option as a second left-hander out of the bullpen. Maton’s spin rate is the 90+ percentile in the majors this season, although his velocity has been down. The right-hander would likely be a last option as would Taylor, if a second lefty is needed.
Catchers (2): Martin Maldonado and Jason Castro
These two are automatic locks for the roster, but the idea of adding Garrett Stubbs as a third catching option shouldn’t be disregarded. The left-hander hasn’t seen as much major-league time in relation to 2020, and with two less players on the postseason roster in 2021, it will be interesting to see if the Astros add Stubbs.
Infielders (6): Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Aledmys Diaz and Marwin Gonzalez
With one less pitching option and only two catchers, the Astros have an extra seat for an infielder and outfielder. In the utility role, Diaz is an automatic for the roster, as Marwin Gonzalez could slip in with a further evaluation this month.
The switch-hitter is hitting no where near the league average against righties this season as a left-handed hitter. With a .171/.264/.246 slash line, Gonzalez is not the lefty hitter that he once was in relation to his 2017 campaign (.322/.394/.552).
The utility man has the versatility to stay with the team, as he can play across the diamond along with left field, which is what would make him valuable in the first round of the playoffs. If Gonzalez as the utility man is not the direction the Astros take, then Taylor Jones would likely be the next man up or the team turns to three catchers.
Outfielders (6): Michael Brantley, Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, Jake Meyers, Jose Siri and Chas McCormick
In the outfield, a slew of rookies have had us thinking about which ones will remain when rosters thin. For Jake Meyers and Chas McCormick, the two don’t show a natural platoon, while both throwing lefty and hitting righty, but McCormick has found himself better against right-handed pitching (.262/.314/.448 vs. Meyers’ 257/.333/.405).
These two would likely be the ones splitting time in centerfield, while Jose Siri remains as a defensive replacement while also a pinch-runner. His role would be comparable to that of Myles Straw in years past.