The Astros Five Biggest Questions Before the Playoffs

The Astros have some questions to answer heading into October. Let's look at those questions here.
Houston Astros v Kansas City Royals
Houston Astros v Kansas City Royals / Jamie Squire/GettyImages
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Jose Abreu
Baltimore Orioles v Houston Astros / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Question 5: How much rope do underperforming veterans get?

José Abreu was supposed to be a centerpiece in the heart of the Astros order this year. He's been anything but.

He's hitting .235 with a .667 OPS. He continues to get RBI chances because he continues to bat in the heart of the order, but when the season is on the line, can he continue to start every day? And if so, can he continue to bat above names like Chas McCormick or Yainer Diaz in the lineup? Does batting him cleanup as Dusty Baker has done the last couple of days really give the Astros their best chance at winning a World Series.

Or what about Martín Maldonado? His offensive woes are well documented and his defensive free-fall has been a sight for sore eyes. But he will always catch Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez. Once starters leave games, could we see Dusty get aggressive pinch-hitting for Maldy to try and push a run across? Or to use Yainer's arm to neutralize the running game? If it's a game not started by Framber or JV, does Maldy get on the field?

While it's incredibly unlikely that Dusty Baker shortens the rope for either of these two, as margins get tighter and tighter throughout the postseason, his hand may be entirely forced.