His time?

Astros call up prize prospect Tucker, send Marisnick down

Kyle Tucker will finally be in an Astros uniform. Rich Schultz

The Astros' quest to win a second consecutive World Series might have gotten a significant boost on Saturday.

The team called up prize outfield prospect Kyle Tucker, and sent Jake Marisnick down to Triple-A for the second time this season.

Marisnick had become a polarizing figure for the Astros. He had seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 153 at bats, but hit just .190 and struck out an alarming 69 times. His defense is spectacular, but offensively he has been a serious liability. 

The big story is Tucker, the Astros' most elite prospect since Alex Bregman. After a slow start at Triple A Fresno, Tucker has managed a .306 average, 14 HRs and 66 RBIs in 80 games. He is considered one of the top 20 prospects in all of baseball by most services.

Tucker will play Saturday against the Chicago White Sox.

Tucker was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft out of high school, and has been a high-end prospect ever since. The Astros have struggled to find a place for him on a team that has the second-most wins in all of baseball. But they finally decided to give him a chance at the big-league level.

If Tucker is ready to produce, it could be the equivalent of adding another big time bat via trade, and help boost an offense that has been very good, if a little short of last year's production. It really is a no-risk proposition. If he does not perform, they have not really lost anything. If he does? They have another key weapon for the stretch run and playoffs. And if he lives up to his potential? He could be a key cog in another World Series run.

Fans have been salivating at the idea of seeing Tucker. They will finally get their chance.

 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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