The Astros have 48 games left starting on August 13th.
The key issues for the team to address for the position players include many of the following.
- Win AL West- The A’s have at least temporarily tighten the race. The A’s schedule for the next three weeks is significantly more challenging than the Astros. I expect the team will have more flexibility than I have shown in the table below, the highest priority to win the division.
- Well maybe winning the division is the second highest priority. The actual top priority is to have everyone healthy and rested but not rusty for postseason. How does one balance rest with rust? I would assume a target for most of the regulars would be about 80% playing time or 40 games.
- My advice for you is to enjoy Aledmys Diaz. Consider him the better version of Marwin Gonzalez. What he has done since returning from his injury is remarkable (0.339/0.362/0.589/0.951 164 wRC+). Diaz has been a multi-position starter (1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF, RF) and as shown below I expect him to play as often as regular starters.
- Another key question- is Alvarez viable in LF if needed? How often can he play in LF without suffering physically or in performance. Alvarez had a rough month of July by his standards, but he is hotter than ever in August. Alvarez had started nine games in LF before 2021. He has started 24 times in LF in 2021. I expect the Astros will continue to spot start Alvarez in LF during Valdez starts to prepare for that possibility in the postseason.
- The Astros committed to Chas McCormick in CF when they traded Myles Straw. McCormick has been essentially the everyday CF and his statistical performance has remained steady since the increase in playing time. Expect McCormick to play just as much as the core players.
- Expect the Astros to give Gurriel more rest relative to the other key starters. The 37-year-old needs to be ready but not worn down in October. We may look back at his recent IL stint as a blessing.
- For now, I will project Bregman will return on 8/20-8/22. I expect the Astros will ramp up his playing time and play him as much as the other starters to make sure his timing is back.
- Before I address the other questions, let me address the September call up. The traditional influx of 5-10 prospects in September is less likely in 2021. The rosters only expand to 28 players which may limit the call ups to Stubbs, Jones, and a pitcher. I do not expect the team to add to the 40-man roster for a September call up because it would require the team to DFA someone to make room for that.
- One of the questions the Astros will hopefully be answering in October is how many position players they will have on the postseason roster. In the ALDS specifically, will they carry 12, 13, or 14 players?
- Diaz is 10, Castro is 11, Meyers is by default is 12
- Is Meyers ready. He will have to prove it in part time playing time.
- I suspect the team will add Stubbs in September and prepare him as a third catcher.
- Stubbs’s performance will determine whether he will make the ALDS roster
- The last roster spot is up to Jones and maybe Wilson.
- I believe Jones will have to prove he is a viable ALDS candidate in part time playing time.
Look over the table and let me know what you think.