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One of these things must happen to keep Astros championship window open beyond 2021

Here's the bottom line. Composite photo by Brandon Strange.

Houston sports have taken several big hits over the last year or so. The Rockets have traded James Harden and Russell Westbrook. The Texans have released J.J. Watt, traded DeAndre Hopkins for pennies, and may be trading Deshaun Watson. The Astros lost George Springer on the heels of losing Gerrit Cole in free agency, as well as Justin Verlander to injury. We don't even need to bring into the conversation the front office and coaching changes that have taken place. Uggghhh!

When we look at the Rockets, they're not going to return to contender or playoff status any time soon. The roster and salary cap are in bad enough conditions to the point where they'll need a couple of seasons to rebuild. The Texans are in a similar situation. They may be able to rebuild faster if they do trade Watson instead of keeping him. The Rockets are trying to tank to get a top four pick in order to speed up their rebuild. The Texans are contemplating trading Watson in order to acquire top picks and talent to hasten a rebuild. That, or they're playing the long game to convince Watson they have a plan and that he should stay.

Enter the Astros. They're the 2017 World Series champions, unapologetically. No matter what the haters and doubters say, that can't be taken away. This team has lost several key pieces over the last few years, but their window is still wide open. While Verlander isn't available this season, Zack Greinke, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy, and Lance McCullers Jr. are all capable of carrying the load. The bullpen has always been a concern, but this year, it may have been shored up.

Losing Springer will definitely hurt. However, bringing back Michael Brantley will help offset that some. Yordan Alvarez is back, so that's a welcomed sight. He adds a much-needed deep threat to the lineup. If Kyle Tucker, Myles Straw, or any of the other new regular contributors can add anything of significance, the lineup shouldn't lose very much potency. Combine that with the potential in the pitching staff, and I can see this team winning the AL West again and making some noise in the playoffs.

One of these moves must happen

While some could see their championship window as closed, I don't. If Carlos Correa can be re-signed soon, that'll go a long way to keeping said window open beyond this season. If Verlander chooses to re-up with the team following successful recovery from Tommy John surgery after this season, that'll add a veteran to a young pitching staff that can help the youngsters grow beyond 2021. If neither of these moves happen, the window is nearly closed.

Bottom line: this season could be the last season the window is open for the Astros. However, if the young guys they've brought in can step up, and they bring back some key pieces, that window can stay open a little longer.

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Framber Valdez was dominant on Thursday. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

The Astros came into this game against the Rangers looking to take the finale of the 3-game series, and they did exactly that.

Framber Valdez had another classic performance, pitching seven innings while allowing zero runs and four hits. Valdez also recorded 8Ks and 1BB.

On offense, it was a big day for Yuli Gurriel who bounced back with 3 hits after going 0-5 the previous night. Alex Bregman and Martin Maldonado both went yard, hitting 2 and 3-run bombs respectively.

Maldonado's came in the bottom of the second inning, giving the Astros a 3-0 lead.

Bregman's put the Astros on top 5-0 in the bottom of the 5th.

The Astros added two more runs in the 7th after Bregman singled to drive in a run, and a sac fly from Aledmys Diaz.

Heading into the 8th inning, Seth Martinez took over for Valdez protecting a 7-0 lead. That lead wouldn't last long after Martinez allowed a couple of base runners and gave up 2 runs off a pair of singles from Nathaniel Lowe and Leody Taveras.

The Astros headed to the bottom of the 8th up 7-2.

After a scoreless bottom of the 8th, Rafael Montero came in to close the game out in the 9th.

Montero gave up a solo homer to Marcus Semien with 2 outs in the 9th before shutting the door.

Final: Astros 7, Rangers 3

Next up: Oakland comes to Minute Maid to play the Astros Friday night at 7:10PM.



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