The Astros need to explore the trade market for a catcher or center fielder.
Coming into this series I wrote an article about how this series will give the Astros an idea of what they need to get past the Yankees come October.
After the first inning of the first game it was looking like a rotation upgrade was going to be in order as Framber Valdez struggled with control and yielded the Astros 3-0 lead right back in the bottom half of the inning on a Giancarlo Stanton three run homer.
He then settled in and shut the Yankees down and if it weren’t for a 16 pitch Anthony Rizzo walk in the sixth inning of that game he would have gotten to the seventh inning. Something the Astros other three starters in the series, Justin Verlander, Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy, all did.
The line for the Astros starting pitching was phenomenal regardless of who you’re facing. But the fact that they pitched 27 innings, all quality starts, and gave up a grand total of five runs, seven hits and 26 strikeouts in those 27 innings against the best offense in baseball is truly mind blowing.
But the reason the Yankees were even able to stay in these games and steal away two of them is because the offense couldn’t add more runs on. The Astros had plenty of chances throughout this series to blow these games open, but they scored three runs in three of the four games and relied on the home run a lot.
In fact 12 of the Astros 15 runs scored this weekend came via the long ball. They weren’t able to manufacture runs or nibble here or there with a sacrifice fly or RBI groundout when needed.
On top of which 11 of their 15 RBI were from four of the top five hitters in their lineup split between three for Kyle Tucker, three for Yordan Alvarez, three for Alex Bregman and two for Jose Altuve. All of those were on home runs as well.
This series showed the Astros more than anything need some depth on their bench and a new center fielder and/or upgrade at catcher. The market is thin on high end talent this year in terms of position players but any upgrade to lengthen the lineup in some capacity needs to happen.
The Astros just faced the team they will most likely have to beat to get to the World Series for the fourth time in six years. If they can turn those 3-0 leads into 5-0 or 6-0 leads and demoralize the other team making them swing for the fences more and take less patient approaches, that will be the key to beating the Yankees come autumn.
You can’t let a team with their offensive firepower hang around knowing it only takes a couple walks and a blast to get them back in the game. There’s a reason they lead the league in come from behind wins with 23.
Insurance runs will be the name of the game and not letting the foot off the gas at a three run lead. Playing as if it’s zero-zero still because the Yankees have proven they can get up off the mat, even in the ninth inning if all it takes is a couple base runners and one swing of the bat.
The best way to upgrade this team in preparation for facing the Bronx Bombers in October is to get someone who can lengthen the lineup and help produce some insurance runs. The top half of the batting order is fine.
The bottom half needs help, at least if the Astros don’t want to leave it up to the bullpen to lock down the best offense every single time. And as stated earlier, considering the Yankees have 22 come from behind wins this year, those insurance runs could be the difference between a date with the World Series again or watching it from home.