It's time we had an honest conversation about Astros' Jeremy Pena

WELL SAID

The Astros took a calculated risk when they decided to let Carlos Correa walk in free agency and replace him with rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena. Pena went on to be the ALCS and World Series MVP for the 2022 World Champion Houston Astros. What a start to a career.

This season, Pena has struggled to replicate the way he was swinging the bat in the postseason, hitting just .235 for the 'Stros. Many fans and media members are disappointed with the production, with some looking to include Pena in trade packages with the deadline approaching.

Let's all just take a moment and relax. How quickly we forget. Pena will be just fine, and there's no reason for him to be going anywhere. It's only his second season in the big leagues, he has time to figure things out. His difficulty with hitting sliders has been an ongoing issue, and it's caused him to struggle with fastballs as well.

Pena's performance in the finale of the Rangers series showed us some encouraging signs. He went 2-4 with a double and single off of fastballs. And he's back in the No. 2 spot in the lineup, where he's been most productive.

And just for curiosity’s sake, how is the Astros former shortstop Carlos Correa playing this season? Would you be surprised to learn he has a lower batting average than Pena? Correa is currently hitting .228 for the Twins.

Be sure to check out the video above as we discuss Pena's underwhelming performance this year, and share our thoughts on why there's no reason to panic about Pena moving forward.

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against Seattle. Composite Getty Image.

The Astros were a season low 12 games under .500 (12-24) on May 8th but were able to turn things around and entered the All-Star break with a respectable 50-46 record.

The turnaround can be attributed to better performances on the field by a multitude of players, but there are still things that could be improved to ensure a successful second half of the season.

As it currently stands, Houston is only one game behind the Seattle Mariners in the American League West division race, and the Astros should have key players returning from injury to further bolster their playoff ambitions.

The return of the King

Kyle Tucker has been on the injured list with a shin contusion for six weeks now, and looks to return in the near future.

The Astros have done surprisingly well without their three-time All-Star outfielder thanks to contributions from guys like Joey Loperfido, Jake Meyers and Marcio Dubon in the outfield. Plus, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yanier Diaz and Jeremy Pena carrying the offense while King Tuck is away.

Before getting hurt, the 27-year-old was hitting .266/.395/.584 through 60 games. Houston already has one of the best offenses in baseball, and adding Tucker back would give the Astros another high-quality bat to further bolster their lineup.

The latest update is Tucker has been playing catch and could start a rehab assignment soon if all goes well.

Fix the rotation

Starting pitching has been a major issue this season due to a multitude of injuries.

Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and J.P. France have all been lost for the year with various surgeries and guys like Justin Verlander and Luis Garcia are trying to work their way back from their injured list stints.

Garcia was recently pulled from his rehab assignment and won’t pitch again until he is ready. Meanwhile, Verlander could be closer to his return and is throwing bullpen sessions as of July 14. Getting both of these pitchers back at some point this season will be a huge boost to this roster.

The current Astros’ rotation consists of Framber Valdez, Ronel Blanco, Hunter Brown, Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss. Although not a bad rotation by any means, the starting pitching depth is getting pretty thin and Houston can ill afford another injury to their staff.

Astros general manager Dana Brown has been vocal about his desire to add starting pitching, and could have some options heading into the trade deadline. Players like Jack Flaherty, Garrett Crochet or Yusei Kikuchi, just to name a few, could be low risk high reward pitchers the Astros could acquire to add depth to their rotation.

Another option would be to call up A.J. Blubaugh from Sugar Land. The 24-year-old has a 6-2 record with a 3.46 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched this season for the Space Cowboys and could be a necessary depth piece to add to the rotation.

Play Astros baseball

The Astros have been playing better baseball as of late and have won 18 of their last 23 games. With players like Kyle Tucker and Justin Verlander potentially returning soon, there is reason to believe Houston can make the playoffs for the 8th consecutive season.

The 'Stros will try to take sole possession of first place in their division from the Mariners when the two teams meet for three games at T-Mobile Park starting on Friday night.

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