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Houston Astros: 5 players who could decide the ALDS vs. Mariners

Joe Fernandez
HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 06: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros high fives Jeremy Pena #3 after hitting a solo home run during the third inning against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park on September 06, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 06: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros high fives Jeremy Pena #3 after hitting a solo home run during the third inning against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park on September 06, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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Houston Astros left fielder Trey Mancini runs out a sacrifice.
Houston Astros left fielder Trey Mancini (26) hits a sacrifice RBI against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fourth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

Trey Mancini will need to be effective in order to lengthen the Astros lineup and add pitches to the Mariners starting pitchers so Houston can get to Seattle’s middle relief.

The Astros have a top heavy lineup with Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker all being tough outs in the top half of the lineup.

All four of those guys have great plate discipline, a strong knowledge of the strike zone, low strikeout rates and the ability to get on base via walk, hit or home run.

After those four there is a significant drop off at the number six spot in the lineup as Yuli Gurriel is a far cry from his 2021 batting title champion form and Martin Maldonado along with whoever has played center field for the team has just not been a reliable source of offense.

Trey Mancini was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles to help alleviate the issues in the back end of Houston’s lineup but it has not gone so well during his short tenure.

Since being acquired by Houston, Mancini’s slash line is .176/.258/.364 with 49 strikeouts against 18 walks alongside eight home runs.

Mancini started hot with the Astros hitting three homers in his first two starts. It has been a struggle since then and the Astros have to hope Mancini gets a little extra juice from playing in the postseason.

Gurriel is now in the six spot being more of a contact first guy with little power so it will be up to Mancini to provide the pop at the back end of the lineup. If he can take advantage of the Crawford Boxes with one big swing considering runs will be at a premium against Logan Gilbert and Luis Castillo, one big Mancini swing could turn the tide in a close game.

More than anything Mancini needs to leave the yard during this series. He can not hit for average or get on base so long as he has a couple big swings in big moments from the back end.

Getting any production outside of the top five hitters in the Astros lineup will make this a short series as the Mariners offense, despite their production in Toronto, is not overwhelming and certainly not anything Astros pitchers can’t handle.

If the Astros get four runs in any given game this series that should be enough to almost guarantee a win given the strength of their pitching and the shortcomings of the Mariners offense. Mancini could provide the punch in the gut home runs that put games out of the Mariners reach.

If the Astros don’t get anything from him it’ll put much more pressure on the top of the lineup to produce all the offense, a tall task to ask of them to string together big innings against such great pitching.

Mancini being able to make contributions to the lineup could make this not only an Astros series win but a quick one if he can push them into the five to six run range.

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