By: Noah Wright
The Astros are off to a blazing start. They enter Friday with a 29-15 record. Now that’s pretty impressive, but their offense is absolutely amazing. Between Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Josh Reddick, Robinson Chirinos, Michael Brantley, and George Springer, the lowest OPS out of that bunch is Reddick at .832. Even then, he’s getting on base at a .388 clip, and providing his usual outstanding outfield defense (4 DRS, .8 UZR, .3 dWAR). When Jose Altuve comes back healthy, you could add another great bat to that line-up.
The bullpen has also been stellar. Behind closer Roberto Osuna (.49 ERA, 1.31 FIP, .327 WHIP, 18 and a third innings), Ryan Presley (who has yet to give up a run this season through 19 innings), Will Harris (1.32 ERA, 2.60 FIP, 1.098 WHIP, 13 and 2 thirds innings), and Hector Rondon (2.03 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 1.125 WHIP, 13 and a third innings) make up a trio of excellent set-up trio. If Chris Devenski and Collin McHugh can find what they had the past few seasons, you could add them to Presley, Harris, and Rondon.
This Astros’ team is almost flawless, but almost isn’t completely. The team’s biggest weakness is rotation depth. Sure Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are 2 very good starters, and even Wade Miley is a solid starter, but past those 3, there’s not much. Plus, all 3 have struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark. Verlander and Cole have an H/9 at 1.5, and Miley has a HR/9 of 1.2. Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock started out in the rotation, but neither have been too great. McHugh was even moved to the bullpen after posting an ERA over 6. Josh James entered the season as the team’s 6th starter/swingman guy, but he has an ERA over 5. Plus, without youngster Lance McCullers, who had Tommy John surgery last year, they’re down another quality starter.
Most of their top prospects aren’t really performing either. Aside from Corbin Martin, Forrest Whitley, Cionel Perez, Dean Deetz, Rogelio Armenteros have struggled in AAA. The Stros need to find some rotation help if they want to go deep in the playoffs. Now they could revisit old friend Dallas Keuchel, but if they need a fix now, he might not be the best solution. Keuchel would likely need somewhere between 2-4 weeks before returning to the MLB. The Astros had also shown interest in Blue Jays lefty, Marcus Stroman. He would be a solid rotation piece, and the Astros would not have to give up either Kyle Tucker or Whitley to acquire him. Another potential trade target could be the D-Backs Robbie Ray. Ray has shown the ability to limit home runs. In 48 and 2 thirds innings so far, Ray has given up just 4 long balls.
The Astros have the line-up, and bullpen to make another World Series run. There is almost no weakness between the starting 9, the set-up men, and closer. But the rotation could use a buff. It’s a pretty top heavy rotation, and without at least another #2 level starter, the Astros might suffer in the long run this season.