How critical Houston Astros learning moment can help them right now

The Houston Astros had some big decisions to make last offseason after securing another World Series championship. The team had parted ways with general manager James Click, leaving no GM in place to handle free agency.

One of the most important calls the front office had to make was how they would handle the future of Yuli Gurriel. Gurriel had a disappointing regular season, but came through big time for Houston in the postseason.

Ultimately, the Astros decided to let Gurriel to walk and opted to hand out a 3-year, $58.5 million contract to White Sox slugger Jose Abreu. Early in the season, many Houston fans pointed to Yuli's production with the Marlins as evidence the Abreu signing was a mistake. Yuli was signed to a one-year deal at $5 million, which was a fraction of the cost of Abreu.

Even though Yuli was outperforming Abreu early on, most believed he would heat up in the summer and justify his massive contract. Well, here we are in the middle of August, and Abreu (currently injured) still hasn't lived up to expectations. Meaning, it's official, the Astros would have been better off holding on to Yuli and allocating Abreu's money to some other free agent options.

While the Astros can't go back in time and undo the deal, perhaps they can learn from the mistake and make the best of the situation going forward. One of the reasons Abreu might be dealing with a lingering back injury could very well be due to Dusty Baker starting the 36-year-old in almost every game.

If Dusty is willing to give Abreu more days off when he returns from the injured list, Jose will likely perform better when he's healthy and rested. Plus, Jon Singleton can add some pop in the lineup while helping to keep Abreu fresh.

Playing Singleton against right-handed pitching and Abreu against left-handed pitching could be a nice plan of action moving forward. However, there is one issue with this idea, Baker may want to play Abreu on a daily basis just so he has Singleton's left-handed bat available to pinch hit late in games.

But is that the right plan of action in the big picture? Be sure to watch the video to find out.

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With the end of the regular season in sight, the Houston Astros host the Kansas City Royals on Friday night, coming off a huge walk-off 2-1 win against the Orioles.

Two players from the finale against Baltimore really stood out for the 'Stros. Jeremy Pena, who had a clutch double late in the game, and Cristian Javier.

Javier struck out 11 batters over 5 innings surrendering only one run, which was exactly what the Astros needed in possibly the most important game of the regular season.

Both Pena and Javier were critical pieces to the Astros title in 2022, and it looks like they're rounding into form at just the right time.

Javier's struggles have caused many to question who would be the team's third starter in the postseason, behind Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander. Let's put this to bed right now, it's Javier.

This should be everything you need to know. Let's start with Hunter Brown. Brown has given up 5 earned runs or more in 4 of his last 7 starts.

How about JP France? France has surrendered 5 or more earned runs in 3 of his last 5 games.

However, Cristian Javier hasn't allowed 5 or more runs in a start since July 3. Javier may only give you 5 innings, but that's actually pretty common for starters in the playoffs. Teams typically remove their starters before the third time through the order.

Prime Time Pena

While the power hasn't been there for Pena this year, he is swinging the bat much better of late. Over his last 30 games, he's hitting .325 while slugging .453. Pena may only have 10 bombs on the year, but he's getting on base and hitting plenty of doubles.

If these two can contribute at a similar level to last postseason, the sky is the limit for the 2023 Astros.

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

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