The Houston Astros completed a 5-1 record versus the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, which was powered by Jeremy Pena who recorded all three RBI. Luis Garcia also showed great command on Sunday as he won his 15th game, and yet despite his recent success may find himself off the ALDS starting rotation and the roster.
Here are the questions the Astros will have to address this postseason: How many pitchers will they carry in the ALDS 12 or 13? What role will Christian Vazquez and Trey Mancini play in the ALDS? Who will get the nod in center field, Chas McCormick or recently recalled and 2021 playoff participant Jake “The Rake” Meyers? Who will be the fourth starter in the rotation, or will they need a fourth starter in the ALDS?
12 PITCHERS OR A BAKERS DOZEN?
I would like to address the pitching situation first as far as who I think would be best suited for the ALDS as far as the rotation and relief pitchers on this roster Starting Oct 11 Game 1 of the ALDS at Minute Maid Park. Here is my list of pitchers I would have as my starters.
SP – Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers Jr., and Christian Javier.
RP – Ryne Stanek, Phil Maton, Rafael Montero, Hector Neris, Bryan Abreu, Hunter Brown, Ryan Pressly, Will Smith. (I know Smith has mixed reviews, but I think having him in there with his 2021 experience. Plus putting Garcia or Urquidy on the roster would mean a RP role.)
EARNING THEIR STRIPES
I am putting Javier on this roster as my fourth starter. He has been top three in K’s per nine innings, ERA and Javier has earned his spot on this team and if Seth Martinez was on the active roster I would have him in the bullpen, but he currently isn’t so that seems to be a point not even worth making at this juncture. Hunter Brown has earned his stripes and deserves to be there, and the use of him in one inning situations gives me an indication that they intend on using him strictly out of the bullpen, and he has proven to be effective in this role.
As well Hunter Brown has proven to be an effective bullpen arm and with the Astros recently using him in one inning situations it makes sense to put him on this roster.
THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
What kind of role will Trey Mancini play vs. Christian Vazquez? It is safe to say Mancini will get a lot more playing time than Vazquez. The Astros have not used him in abundance since acquiring the former Red Stockings backstop at the trade deadline. Martin Maldonado is clearly the captain of the ship and with only a couple extra base hits (we know Vasquez is the better bat) He has not been that “extra good bat” the guys needed down the stretch. Outside of a moment here and there his impact has been minimal. That I think is due to a lock of opportunities. I never thought he was here to stay, a rental. I do see Mancini playing left field mainly and DH when Yordan plays left behind Framber Valdez.
Mancini will be in the playoffs for the first time in his career so no one knows how the veteran will respond. He may come up clutch and I know most of Astros nation hopes so as well. There has been flashes of power and hitting more so than Vasquez but the Astros were also hoping for a little more production.
NOT CERTAIN ABOUT CENTER FIELD
Since the Astros lost George Springer to Free Agency, the center field position has been a turn stall. Myles Straw took over, then was traded to the Guardians. Shortly after Jake Meyers burst onto the scene before cooling off and eventually falling victim to a shoulder surgery. The Astros would bring up Jose Siri and Chas McCormick, only to see Siri traded and McCormick to struggle overall at the plate.
Looking back the Astros would be in a much better position had they kept George, which does not matter at this point. The Astros need Jake Meyers to be Rake Meyers and stay healthy, and/or Chas McCormick to step up in a big way this post season. The uncertainty in center field is clearly one of the weaker parts of this team. I hope they do well in the post season. If McCormick and Meyers can both contribute the Astros will be an even tougher opponent.
Once the Houston Astros conclude their season vs. the Phillies will more than likely engage in inner squad scrimmages or mini games so they are not cold going into the ALDS. The Rotation in my eyes shapes up in this way. Verlander, Valdez, McCullers Jr. and Javier. I would be ok with the Astros flipping Framber and Lance since McCullers has been better at home than on the road.
The bats have to show up, the pitchers just need to stay consistent, then the Astros can focus on winning one game at a time. If this happens I believe the Astros will have a historic postseason.
Brett Chancey is the co-host of the Locked on Astros Podcast. He can be followed on Twitter/Instagram @htownwheelhosue or @stros411 on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook.