Dana Brown may have saved the Astros’ 2024 season with one key offseason decision

The Astros' GM had a gut feeling about one of the team's young pitchers and it is paying off in a huge way in 2024.
Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays
Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

No one realistically thought that the Houston Astros would have the level of problems with their pitching staff that they have had this year. Some injuries are to be expected, but between the ongoing saga that is Justin Verlander's neck injury and losing both Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy to season-ending injuries, the Astros' 2024 pitching staff looked like it was in absolute shambles.

That said, hope still remained for the Astros. Hunter Brown's turnaround (aside from his brutal start over the weekend) has been a lovely boost. The move that may have saved the Astros' season, however, was the one to put Ronel Blanco into the Astros' rotation in 2024.

Ronel Blanco's ascension is the only reason the Astros were able to survive their early slump

Aside from a rather unfortunate suspension for using sticky stuff, Blanco has been a revelation for Houston this year. After general manager Dana Brown correctly identified that he was being wasted as a relief arm, the Astros put him in the rotation, and he has rewarded that faith with a 2.53 ERA across 16 starts. Sure, his 4.35 FIP does foretell a bit of regression coming, but there is no denying that Houston would have been dead in the water without his performance in the first half.

Now, Houston is actually in position to make moves at the trade deadline to address their pitching woes. Some of those plans are going to be contingent on owner Jim Crane's willingness to take on more payroll this year, as well as whether or not Verlander will return soon. However, every indication we have right now is that the Astros know they have gotten a gift with their recent hot streak, and the team plans on taking advantage of it with an aggressive trade deadline.

None of this would have been possible if Blanco hadn't shown out like he did in the first half. He has arguably been the Astros' most valuable player in 2024 and should have been an All-Star if not for MLB's rule that requires every team to have a representative in the game. One can only hope that Blanco and the Astros can get more help from elsewhere on the roster the rest of the way.

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