Dusty Baker Needs To End the DH Experiment and Play Yainer Diaz
By Alec Brown
The Astros offense isn't the Astros offense we've grown accustomed to over the years. With no Jose Altuve or Michael Brantley, it is to be expected that the Astros offense is down somewhat.
The struggles of José Abreu have exacerbated their lack of depth in the early goings.
But one particular problem plays a huge role in the Astros struggle to push across runs--what is Dusty Baker doing with the deisgnated hitter? In particular, why is it not Yainer Diaz when he isn't catching.
Last night Rylan Bannon, a career journeyman with 14 big league at-bats to his name, made his first start as a member of the Astros. Where did he get penciled into the lineup? Designated hitter. Bannon was 2-14 for his brief career in the bigs entering the night, and carried a .599 OPS in Sugar Land before an emergency call-up due to injuries.
His career numbers don't exactly strike fear in the hearts of an opposing pitcher the way a designated hitter should.
Bannon now has only one less start at DH than Yainer Diaz, the top-100 prospect that hit .310 for his career at the minor league level and just blasted 25 bombs last season. The Astros carried him over Korey Lee on the Opening Day roster to help the offense in the absence of Altuve and Brantley, yet he has played only eight games this season--six behind the plate and two as a designated hitter.
David Hensley, he of the .372 OPS and 8 OPS+ variety, has seven starts at DH this year. Diaz is a top prospect in the game that has mashed at every level, but he can't get plate appearances over Rylan Bannon and David Hensley? I mean what are we doing here?
The Astros have received a .234 average and .494 OPS from the DH spot this season with three bombs, and that the numbers are even that high is due to the 10 games Yordan Alvarez has started at DH (he has all three bombs and 13 RBI as the Astros' DH).
It's time to stop fooling around and experimenting with different designated hitters. If Yordan is either in left field or out of the lineup as he has been the last few days, Yainer Diaz has to be the DH.
He is on the team to hit. Period. The offense is scuffling without Altuve and Brantley, and now down Chas McCormick and Yordan as well. Runs come at a premium in the big league level.
Bannon and Hensley can make spot starts in a utility role to give guys off days, but the only position in the lineup with the word "hitter" in it should be reserved for somebody that can actually, you know, hit.