Houston Astros: Five Questions Entering September
What’s the biggest takeaway going into September from the season so far?
There’s truly little to complain about with how well the Astros have played this year, not to mention their solid divisional cushion that has made it easy for their fans to not fret over whether or not the team will end up in the wild-card round, much less the playoffs.
Even now, their four-game lead over the Yankees seems hard to squander with only a month to go (knock on wood.)
The biggest question marks are more about October and how to best prepare for it.
How much time should they give Verlander to recover and make sure he’s back to form for game one of the American League Division Series?
Is there any treatment that will make Yordan Alvarez’s wrist issues better or is he going to have to gut it out? And if so, will he be the same hitter we saw over the first half of the year, or will his power fall off, similar to Alex Bregman’s in last year’s postseason with his wrist injuries?
Can Jeremy Pena find a way to get ahead in counts and not be such a free swinger, which will definitely be exposed against the highest level of pitching in the postseason? And if not, what’s the solution to his swing-and-miss issues and where should he hit in the lineup come the fall?
Was Rafael Montero’s August swoon just a month of exhaustion or does it portend worse things to come when the bright lights of October baseball hit? Will his confidence issues resurface at the wrong time?
And if they do…will Hunter Brown make a case for taking the spot of any of the relievers currently on the roster for the postseason? If he pitches to such an immaculate level, would the Astros consider leaving someone who has been part of the best bullpen in baseball off the playoff roster and give Brown a shot on the biggest stage of all?
While September may lack drama for the Astros, other than the difference between being the one or the two seed in the American League Playoffs, there’s still plenty to prepare for and to ponder the best way forward to get this team ready for another World Series title run.