Thursday, April 11, 2024

The Long and Short of Things in Houston


To give you an idea of how things are going for the Astros, the top of the depth chart for starting pitching consists of five people who are currently injured. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers, Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia. That is an entire starting rotation worth of people that have had great seasons for the Astros. And they are all currently injured, with JV expected month I think.

Until then, their rotation consists of the five next best options: Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown, J.P. France, Ronel Blanco and Spencer Arrighetti. In a different scenario, Javier would be a platooned rotation option, France, Brown and Blanco would have been dealt due to overflow. Arrighetti is a prospect, and he's not even the first prospect the 'Stros have thrown out this month; they tried Blair Henley, who got completely lit up by the Rangers' starting nine in just one inning. To Arrighetti's credit, he's looked a ton better, and might be a surprise hero for them this season.

I mean, let's be honest, we shouldn't be in a position where a team should need an entire backup rotation, but the Astros have enough depth and development that they do. Anybody else would start panicking, and the Astros have somebody like Ronel Blanco just sitting there. He gets up and allows 1 hit in 2 starts. And they have someone like Spencer Arrighetti, who can quiet the Royals [at least for an inning or so]. You don't see the other teams developing their team that well, though with the amount of pitching injuries I think you're beginning to see them start to.

At the same time, this team is still extremely well-built, and has a varied core made up of people from various points in this team's history. Jose Altuve is still the longest tenured hitter, and he's, I say this begrudgingly, only adding to his future Hall of Fame case. This season he's been playing spectacularly, hitting .333 with 16 hits, 3 RBIs and 3 homers. After being a pure contact man for his first several years, and then switching to power more recently, Altuve seems to have combined the two to level up even further. At 34, Altuve is still relevant, still producing prime numbers, and still a thorn in my side. And I have to hand it to him. I don't hate him because he's inefficient, I hate him because he's good, and he keeps being good. 

Him, Tucker, Bregman, Alvarez, Pena and Diaz have shown no atrophy at the core of this team, and they're still keeping opposing defenses at bay just by being overpowered [except the Yankees but they don't wanna talk about that]. The division matchups, especially the Rangers, will determine this team's full worth, and their current record is the result of being outmatched by teams with less backup pitching options, but for a sub-.500 team they're hitting extremely well, and shouldn't be counted out.

I know this seems like an Astros team that could underwhelm...but that's what they always want you to think. So I'll believe it when I see it.

Coming Tonight: I have done a custom of one of the three rookie Jacksons. Tonight is the second one. 

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