The latest out of Houston…
- It has widely been expected that the Astros will target rotation help at the deadline, though Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle wonders if the club could also look at acquiring a reliever. There isn’t much wrong on paper with the Astros’ relief corps, as they rank first in the league in bullpen WHIP, second in hits/9, and third in bullpen ERA, though there is some uncertainty at the back end. Josh James has been inconsistent this season, while Rome notes that Hector Rendon didn’t pitch well down the stretch in 2018. There also isn’t much left-handed depth beyond Cionel Perez and reverse-splits specialist Will Harris.
- Speaking of James, he left last night’s game for what he described as “a precautionary move” due to lat tightness, Rome tweets, and James didn’t consider the issue to be serious. The 26-year-old has a stunning 14.4 K/9 this season, usually operating as a multi-inning weapon out of Houston’s pen, though James has had troubles with the long ball (1.7 HR/9) and his control (5.9 BB/9). As a result, James only has a 4.71 ERA to show for all his missed bats.
- The Astros are close to getting a lot of notable stars back from the injured list, which Rome feels could lead to something of a roster crunch. Tyler White could be the odd man out, as he hasn’t hit this season and offers little defensive value apart from his current status as the Astros’ only backup first baseman. These issues also make the out-of-options White difficult to trade, though given his strong minor league numbers and the .888 OPS he posted for the Astros over 237 PA just last season, one would think another team would make a claim if White was indeed designated for assignment. Tony Kemp is another player whose role could be diminished once Houston’s regulars are healthy, though Kemp’s on-base ability and defensive versatility seemingly give him the leg up on White if a choice had to be made.
- In a separate piece from Rome, he writes about the Astros’ attempts to free up enough room within their $5,355,100 draft bonus pool to sign fourth-round pick Colin Barber. The 136th overall pick has a $410.1K slot price, though Barber reportedly wants more to break his commitment to the University of Oregon. Barber’s asking price isn’t known, though Houston has already carved out approximately $645K in pool space thanks to a few below-slot signings, much of which ($507.3K) came from first-rounder Korey Lee’s contract. Of course, not all of that extra money is earmarked for Barber, given that the Astros have also gone above-slot to sign a couple of their other picks.