Can the Houston Astros win their second World Series in three years?by Chris Totaro October 4, 2019 0 comments
The most exciting time for a baseball fan is here. After 162 games, the regular season has come to an end and the postseason is soon to begin. Coming off a World Series win in 2017 and a 103 win season in 2018, the Astros somehow improved in 2019. They finished with a record of 107-55, securing home-field advantage for the whole postseason. Here’s a preview of what is likely to come for the Astros in October.
Heading into the ALDS, here’s what the Astros’ roster might look like:
Catchers: Martín Maldonado, Robinson Chirinos
No surprises here, the Astros will go with two veterans behind the dish in the postseason. There’s no need for a third catcher as these two guys have played extremely well all season.
Infielders: Yuli Gurriel, José Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Aledmys Díaz, Myles Straw
Doctors have said that Carlos Correa will be healthy to start the ALDS after being shut down for the last few games of the regular season. Assuming everyone is at full strength, the starting infield is set. This consists of Gurriel at first, Altuve at second, Bregman at third, and Correa at shortstop. The Astros have had arguably the best infield in all of baseball this season, so there’s no need for change here. Díaz makes the roster as a utility player, the same role that Marwin González filled for the last few years. Myles Straw is the only question mark out of these guys, but his speed and versatility likely get him on the postseason roster. The odd man out is going to be Abraham Toro, who was called up in late August. He has been a very solid defender but struggled with the bat at times. With so much depth on this team, there’s simply no room for him on the postseason roster.
Outfielders: Michael Brantley, George Springer, Josh Reddick, Kyle Tucker, Jake Marisnick, Yordan Álvarez
Along with one of the best group of infielders in the game, the Astros boast some of the best outfielders as well. Brantley, Springer, Reddick, Marisnick, and Álvarez are virtual locks for a postseason spot. Tucker is the only question mark, as he was called up from Triple-A Round Rock in September. He has been one of the Astros’ most coveted prospects for years and seemed to finally figure things out at the big league level, slashing .269/.319/.537 with four homers and 11 RBI in 67 at-bats this season. He will be a solid left-handed pinch-hitting option off the bench throughout the postseason and could get some starts in right field if Reddick begins to struggle.
The tricky situation will come if the Astros make a run to the World Series. Álvarez has been one of the best hitters since his call-up this season, but he is not a very good fielder. A.J. Hinch will have to sacrifice some fielding if he wants to utilize Álvarez’s big bat in the World Series, other than the occasional pinch-hit situation.
Starting pitchers: Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, José Urquidy
It’s no secret that Verlander, Cole, and Greinke will be the first three starters for the Astros in the postseason. This is a formidable challenge for any team that they will face, as this could be the best 1-2-3 punch in all of baseball.
The fourth spot is up in the air, as Wade Miley has struggled tremendously in September. After looking like a lock for a postseason roster spot and putting up ace-like numbers for the majority of the year, he is on the bubble and could lose his spot. In his last five starts, he pitched a total of 11.1 innings and gave up 21 earned runs. José Urquidy has looked solid in his rookie season and has pitched much better than Miley has in September. It would be no surprise to see Urquidy or Miley in the fourth rotation spot.
Relief pitchers: Ryan Pressly, Roberto Osuna, Will Harris, Josh James, Hector Rondon, Joe Smith
Osuna and Pressly are locks as the eighth and ninth inning options for the Astros, along with Peacock, Harris, and Smith.
The final two spots are up in the air, as James, Rondón, Urquidy and Chris Devenski are all fighting for those spots. James is an intriguing option as a mid-late inning flamethrower, but he struggles with control at times. Devenski has been solid for the Astros in past seasons, but has had an up-and-down year and is very untrustworthy in big playoff situations. Rondón has also had an up-and-down year but has been more reliable in big situations. He will likely take one of the final two spots. If Urquidy doesn’t take Miley’s spot in the rotation, he could be used as a long reliever in the playoffs, as he has had a lot of success as of late.
The big injury that could derail a World Series run
Big injuries are always a huge concern for any team in the postseason. One of the biggest injury concerns for the Astros would be if Carlos Correa went down. He has played only 75 games in a season riddled with injuries, which has been the case for most of his career. He was shut down for the last series of the season but should be good to go for the start of the ALDS.
The Astros have played well in Correa’s absence, as Aledmys Díaz, Myles Straw, and Jack Mayfield have filled in admirably. In addition to these guys filling in, Alex Bregman is a natural shortstop and is more than capable of taking over the position, meaning some combination of Díaz and Gurriel would rotate at first base and third base.
This is not saying that another injury to Correa could derail the Astros’ postseason run, but they have proven all season that they are deep enough to make a run without him.
How far could they go? Who could they potentially play?
Finishing with the best record in baseball, the Astros are capable of making another World Series run. They have great depth in both hitting and pitching. Home-field advantage will help with this tremendously, as they finished with the best home record in baseball at 60-21.
As the top seed in the American League, the Astros will face the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays. Either opponent will be tough. The Astros are more familiar with the A’s but went 11-8 against them this season. They struggled with the Rays a bit this season as well, going 3-4 against them.
If they advance through the ALDS, they will face the winner of the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins. The Astros finished 3-4 against the Twins and 4-3 against the Yankees. Although anything is possible in the playoffs, all season it has seemed like the Astros and Yankees would meet up again in the ALCS, as they are undoubtedly the best two teams in the American League.
2019 has been a very magical season for the Astros. They pitched a combined no-hitter on Aug. 3, Justin Verlander pitched his third career no-hitter on Sept. 1, and Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander both hit the 300 strikeout mark and are equally deserving of the Cy Young award. These are just a few on the long list of accomplishments the Astros have achieved this season. It would make it much more impressive if they could add another World Series trophy to top it all off.