Houston Astros: The ups and downs and predictions after the All-Star break

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JULY 27: Yordan Alvarez #44 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Aledmys Diaz #16 after hitting a solo home run in the top of the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum on July 27, 2022 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) (Lachlan Cunningham, 2022 Getty Images)

Hey guys, it’s Ari Alexander with the Astros coming off a huge week post-All Star break and getting ready for the August 2 trade deadline.

Houston has a number of needs which I’ll discuss in a bit, plus we’ll get into some intel I’ve learned from talking to league sources at the All-Star game and over the past few days.

First, let’s get into the games, as the Astros have played eight in the past seven days.

FEASTED ON SHARKS, DEVOURED BY MINNOWS

The Astros opened the All-Star break with perhaps the toughest 5-game stretch in all of baseball. Two versus the New York Yankees in one day, immediately followed by a three-game weekend series in Seattle versus a Mariners team who had won 14 in a row.

Naturally, the Astros won all 5 games in pretty dominant fashion. Yordan Alvarez is back from his hand inflammation, and aside from some rest days he’ll need, is back to playing like an MVP candidate.

The Astros quickly followed that up by getting swept in Oakland by the lowly Athletics. Neither the pitching nor the hitting was up to par, but Houston should be fine, and this series can likely be attributed to a mix of matchups and a bit of looking past the worst team in the division immediately following five huge wins.

STREAKING

One Ryne’s streak ended while another Ryan’s streak has set a team record. Ryne Stanek gave up a run Monday night in Oakland, which would be a pretty standard occasion for any relief pitcher, except it was the first time he’d given up a run since *APRIL 27TH!* Ryne Stanek went THREE MONTHS without giving up a run. His ERA, which was nearing 0.50 “ballooned” all the way up to 0.79. He should have been an All-Star.

HOUSTON, TEXAS - JULY 21: Ryne Stanek #45 of the Houston Astros pitches in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees during game one of a doubleheader at Minute Maid Park on July 21, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) (2022 Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Ryan Pressly set a franchise record by retiring his last 30 batters. Pressly hasn’t given up *A BASERUNNER* in A MONTH. I’m keyboard yelling because it’s insane. The way these two guys are pitching, the Astros are nails in the 8th and 9th come playoff time.

DEADLINE INTEL

Here’s who Houston has been linked with per national reports:

1B Josh Bell (per Jeff Passan/ESPN)

C Wellington Castillo (Passan)

SP Luis Castillo (Newsday/WFAN)

They are also likely to go after left-handed relief pitching, seeing as they have none.

Tigers relievers Gregory Soto and Andrew Chafin make sense for Houston, but have yet to be reportedly linked.

Passan also reports if the Astros trade a starting pitcher for one of the above players or another major-league player, it would be Jose Urquidy.

From my own reporting, here’s what I’ve gathered:

Teams are likely to call about Korey Lee, if the Astros were to trade for some of the top level deadline players.

If the Astros were to deal with two major sellers - Colorado and Pittsburgh - the return those teams would ask for would be young/lower level (AA or below) pitchers. If you look at Houston’s Top 30 prospects, guys like Alex Santos, Chayce McDermott and Spencer Arighetti fit that profile.

NEXT UP

Houston hosts the Mariners for four back home at Minute Maid, meaning this will be 12 games in 11 days.


About the Author:

Murrow and Emmy award-winning sports anchor & reporter. Avid traveler, mediocre golfer. Loves good food, good friends and southern rap.