TAKING A SWING

Barry Laminack: Astros could use a lineup change

Barry Laminack: Astros could use a lineup change
Alex Bregman should move back up in the order. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Astros have scored 190 runs this season, the thir\rd highest total in baseball. They are averaging 4.87 runs per game, putting them eighth overall in the MLB. But 78 of their runs have come in 9 games against two of the worst teams in the AL (White Sox - 3 games, 27 runs and Athletics - 6 games, 51 runs ). That’s a whopping 8.6 runs per game average versus those two teams.

In the other 27 games? The Astors are averaging 4.1 runs per game. That would put them tied for 21st in baseball. So while the 190 runs looks great on paper, it feels more like fools' gold to me.

And while it seems as if some of the bats have woken up (welcome to the party Marwin Gonzalez - who is slashing .333/.385/.458 over the last seven days), I think it might be time for AJ hinch to explore a lineup change, specifically moving Alex Bregman back to the 2 hole.

On the surface Bregman’s numbers are admittedly underwhelming. His .259 batting average and .399 slugging percentage aren’t great, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see that Bregman has been doing “the little things” at the plate that make a huge difference.

His .369 OBP is second on the team, his 11 doubles are second on the team, he has the 2nd fewest strikeouts (21) on the team among hitters with over 100 plate appearances (Altuve has 20), but most impressive to me are his 23 walks, good for first on the team and it’s not even close (Reddick is second with 19...I know that surprised me too).

Oh did I mention Bregman is also 1st on the team with 3 steals?

I think moving Bregman back to the No. 2 hole in the lineup could end up having similar results that moving Springer to the leadoff spot dead a while back. What better way to increase run scoring on a team than to have traffic on the base paths, and the numbers prove that Bregman can provide that as much as anyone else on the team.

And while I understand that moving Correa and Altuve down a slot means they will get a few less at bats, I think it's more than acceptable to do so since it will also create more run producing opportunities for them.

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The Astros rotation looks like a strength moving forward. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are coming off a much-needed series win over the White Sox, but have a quick turnaround as they host the Orioles on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The 'Stros dropped the first game of the series with Framber Valdez on the mound, but were able to rebound with Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti starting the final two games.

Brown was brilliant once again, and Arrighetti bounced back after a disastrous start against the Tigers over the weekend. Despite all the injures to the Astros staff this season, their young pitchers are stepping up when they need them the most.

Brown has six consecutive quality starts and is beginning to show signs that he can be the top of the rotation pitcher the club always hoped he could develop into.

Arrighetti has stepped in and shown that he belongs in the big leagues, and has provided innings Houston desperately requires with so many pitchers on the injured list.

Speaking of which, with Justin Verlander on the IL, Double A prospect Jake Bloss will make the start for Houston on Friday night. Bloss has quickly progressed through the farm system, having been drafted just a year ago.

We'll see how he performs in his MLB debut, but the club seems to have a lot of quality pitching options moving forward, especially with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers scheduled to return in late July and early August respectively.

And as we look at the Astros rotation moving forward, perhaps they will go back to a six-man rotation during certain stretches in the second half of the season.

Which could prove to be vital to the team's success. As good as Ronel Blanco has been, he's never pitched as many innings as he'll be asked to pitch this year. Same goes for Arrighetti. And let's face it, sending Verlander out to pitch on four days rest consistently at 41 years old doesn't sound like a wise decision. He's already been on the IL twice this year.

While some see Garcia and McCullers as wild cards to help the team this season, Astros GM Dana Brown doesn't see it that way. He told the Astros flagship station this week that he's counting on those guys to make big contributions when they return. And he's counting on their postseason experience should they get there.

Keep in mind, Garcia has a 3.61 career ERA and has been durable outside the Tommy John surgery. And McCullers has always been good, it's just the health that causes concern.

Garcia is also an example of how a player can skip Double A and Triple A and have success right away in the big leagues. Hopefully, Bloss can follow in his footsteps, since he's bypassing Triple A to make his first start.

So what's the short and long-term outlook for the Astros rotation? And should we expect Verlander to return in 2025?

Be sure to watch the video above as we address those questions and much more!

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