Here's why Dusty Baker, Astros are at critical crossroads before pivotal stretch run

Here's why Dusty Baker, Astros are at critical crossroads before pivotal stretch run
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As the Astros approach the final month of the season, they find themselves in a dog fight for the division crown with the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers.

One of the biggest concerns for the Astros has to be Cristian Javier's struggles over the last several months. Javier has been so bad, many are wondering if the club can even use him moving forward.

Be sure to watch the video above as we discuss how the Astros should handle Javier down the stretch and in the postseason if the Astros are able to get in.

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Listen to The Bench with John Granato and Lance Zierlein weekday mornings on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM.

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While the weekend didn't go as planned for the Astros (dropping a 3-game series to the Royals), they find themselves leading the division by a game and a half over the Rangers with 12 games left to play.

Of course, the big topic of discussion is the Astros' inability to take care of business against lesser opponents. Is it a lack of focus that's causing the problem, or is this version of the Astros less consistent, and just not quite as good as last year's team?

We know one thing for sure, the players know there is an issue. Otherwise, 3 team meetings wouldn't have been called in the last several weeks. Fatigue plays into this as well, nobody has played more baseball in recent years than the Astros. And as much as Dusty Baker says everyone on his team plays, maybe some guys are playing a little too much.

Older players like Jose Abreu and Martin Maldonado could benefit from some extra rest, allowing them to be as fresh as possible when they are needed most. The pitch clock might also be a factor that's causing the starting pitching to regress this season.

Whatever the issue is, whether it's playing at home, or the batter's eye being an issue against left-handed pitching at Minute Maid, the margin for error is incredibly slim.

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion!

Don't miss Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.

And listen to ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM for Houston's best sports talk.

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