Here's how to solve Houston Astros trade deadline quandary

Astros Jeremy Pena, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker
The Astros should prioritize upgrading the offense. Composite Getty Image.
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MLB's trading deadline is August 1st this season. As of this writing, the Astros are three and a half games behind the Rangers, and one game ahead of the Angels for the final Wildcard spot. Pretty unfamiliar territory for a team that's won this division five of the last six seasons. That one season they didn't win the division (2020 Covid season), they reached the ALCS for the fourth consecutive time and came this close to another World Series berth.

All that being said, this team needs help. While the Rangers lost their ace until sometime next season, they amassed so much talent this past offseason, they won't be going away. The Angels have always had talent, but haven't put things together until maybe this season. When Luis Garcia went down for the season, it compounded the Lance McCullers Jr injury. Michael Brantley not being able to come back healthy and productive compounded the slumps guys like Jose Abreu and others have been in offensively. Now Yordan Alvarez is hurt! He's expected to miss a month. The breaks they've caught this season have been bad ones for the most part.

The debate about the deadline centers around whether they need a bat or an arm. The lineup has been bad. They're 17th in batting average, 20th in on base percentage, 19th in OPS, 23rd in walks, 16th in hits, and 15th in HRs in all of MLB. That's bad considering they've been one of the better lineups in their current run. Pitching has been the other calling card. The depth of starters at one point called for a six-man rotation. They're currently leading MLB in ERA & earned runs surrendered, ninth in hits surrendered, and are seventh in WHIP. To me, all of this means they require more help in the lineup than in the rotation or bullpen.

“But Jermaine, we can't rely on the guys in our rotation and bullpen going into the postseason!” Yeah, well, how do you expect to get there if you DON'T rely on them?!? When Brent Strom left, he left behind two capable guys in Josh Miller and Bill Murphy. They've, so far, have been able to navigate the waters of the post-Strom era pretty well. I've come to the conclusion they can't count on LMJ anymore. However, when a guy like Hunter Brown steps up, it eases that blow. J.P. France and Cristian Javier have been good. Don't forget the Great Frambino and Ryan Pressly are still on this staff as well. Pssst! Jose Urquidy should be coming back soon too!

The lineup is another story. 16 of their 29 losses so far this season have been by one or two runs. Four of those came in extra innings where you get a man on second base to start off with. The numbers clearly say this team needs a bat, or two. GM Dana Brown said if they find a bat, manager Dusty Baker will find at-bats for them. His job is easier considering what the lineup is currently producing. So what if Abreu signed a bigger deal than what he should've. Who cares if Yuli Gurriel should've been brought back instead. Alex Bregman has started slow damn near every year. Jose Altuve has only been back in the lineup for about a month now. Either they'll take time to get right, or bring in some guys that'll help the cause.

Baseball is a numbers game. The offensive and pitching numbers indicate this team needs to boost the lineup. Argue all you want about the pitching staff needing improvement. If you can't score, you won't win. I see a lot of you forgot what the 2005 team looked like. Remember? The team that was left for dead, only to rise up and reach the World Series? Yeah...but they got swept by a total of six runs because THEY COULDN'T SCORE! If you've read this far, thanks. By now, I hope I've convinced you where the clear-cut need is for this team at the deadline this year. If not, seek help. I know a great therapist.

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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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