Five Astros Who Need to Be Better in May
By Alec Brown
#3 Astro that needs to be better: Martín Maldonado
Expecting wild offensive production from Martín Maldonado is just naivety. His value goes well beyond the offense. It's well established his prep work is unrivaled and the pitching staff loves him.
That being said, the Astros catchers of the future are currently stuck behind him. Yainer Diaz is playing once every fifth day while Korey Lee is blocked in AAA. Diaz is supposed to get 300 at-bats this season, but is on pace to take 167.
If Houston is going to sit their catchers, and in particular Diaz, they need more from Maldy. His .162 average and .485 OPS are porous even by his standards. Defensively, he hasn't looked the same as years prior. According to Statcast, his framing has dropped from the 62nd percentile in 2022 to the 10th percentile this season. He also has a league high three passed balls, one that cost them a game against Minnesota.
Yainer Diaz is the catcher of the future, but he also hits right now in a lineup that desperately needs runs (.258/.306/.355). He just threw out two base runners last night with his howitzer cannon of an arm and has guided rookie Hunter Brown through five starts with a 2.60 ERA.
Maybe this is actually an indictment that Dusty Baker needs to be better and actually write the young star's name into the lineup. Houston is 6-3 in game's started by Diaz. They're 9-13 in games Maldy starts. Maldy is beloved, and I hope he's one day on the Astros coaching staff. But he either needs to step up his production, or Dusty needs to start playing Yainer more.