Here's how the Astros can fix their pitching struggles

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Framber Valdez got blown up against the Rangers to close out the series, which makes for several sub-par starts in a row for him.

ESPN Houston's Jeremy Branham has a thought on what the team can do to help fix him and the other struggling arms.

Spoiler alert: a six-man rotation might be the answer.

Check out the video above for the full conversation!

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Will someone have to pay for the Astros' failures this season? Composite Getty Image.

It's no secret to anyone that the most disappointing start to the season in MLB has to belong to the Houston Astros. They are currently seven games under .500, 10 games behind the division-leading Mariners, and 7.5 games behind the Royals in the Wild Card race.

There's no question the Astros are dealing with a plethora of injuries this season, with seven starting pitchers spending time on the injured list.

Outfielders Kyle Tucker and Chas McCormick have also missed time with a bruised shin and hamstring strain, respectively.

But the club can't blame everything on health. Many of the players have underperformed this season, and the team's reluctance to move on from Jose Abreu with more urgency may have put them in a hole they won't be able to dig out of.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale wrote in a piece this week that Astros GM Dana Brown's job is “safe,” despite the team's struggles.

Brown reportedly has another two years on his contract after this season. He also wasn't here for the disastrous signings of Rafael Montero and Abreu, so he won't be blamed for those decisions.

His handling of Abreu this season certainly could have been better, many believed he waited too long to release the aging player. But once again, Brown may not have had the final say on when the Abreu experiment should have ended.

Many believe team consultant Jeff Bagwell and owner Jim Crane had to be the ones to okay Abreu's release.

But one thing is for sure, they way the organization handled the Abreu situation deserves all the criticism. If they really wanted to give Abreu a fair shot to turn things around, they should have sent him to Triple A for several weeks to try to regain his swing.

Instead, he returned after four weeks having played in only five games at the Astros Florida Complex, and two games with Triple A Sugar Land with little to no success.

So let's get this straight, they brought him back to face the Mariners, without proving he could hit minor league pitching? He struggled in the series on offense and defense, and Seattle took three of four. Which put the team even further back in the division.

And let's not forget, the Mariners have one of the best pitching rotations in baseball, and all their starters are right-handed.

Dana Brown faced the media alone after Abreu's release

Dana's comments about the Abreu saga didn't provide much clarity.

Brown talked about the Astros having a timeline for Abreu, but they didn't know what the timetable was?

Via The Athletic:

We ultimately had a timeline; we just didn't know when it was.

That's not at all confusing. So he basically said the at-bats weren't getting better, so they decided to make a change.Funny, we remember them telling us he looked much better, despite the results.

We get it. Sometimes teams have to say stuff publicly that they don't really believe. But Brown taking credit for being the driving force behind the decision to release Abreu isn't something we would bring up.

It's hard to imagine they could have handled the situation any worse.

Look at the positives

We are left with one possible silver lining. Maybe the Montero and Abreu contracts will keep former players like Bagwell from influencing personnel decisions.

And let's not forget, this mess was really created when Crane allegedly pushed former GM James Click out the door, thinking he knew better.

Add that to the list of things that aren't aging well for the Astros.

Be sure to watch the video above for the full conversation. You don't want to miss this!

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and Charlie Pallilo discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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