Astros slow start has some wondering if adding Dallas Keuchel would help solidify the rotation

Is Houston good or do the Astros need more Dallas in their life?

Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Astros fans know the team is not off to the start they wanted or expected, but there is no need to push the panic button. It's a long season, 162 games to be exact and there is going to be plenty of ups and downs. The bad news has been the teams' inability to get key hits with runners in scoring position, as well as struggling to put together big innings that break close games open and build momentum in close games. The starting pitching, for the most part, has been pretty good and is only going to get better. It's fairly typical for pitchers to start slow and work out the kinks with every start in the first month of the season. As they continue to develop new pitches they added to their repertoire in spring training, fine-tune their control locating pitches and stretch out their endurance and arm strength, things will only get better.

Pen pals

Justin Verlander has not been as sharp as he would like in the early going this season

Justin Verlander pitches Game 1. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The bullpen has been strong and the 8th and 9th inning assignments are a virtual lock with Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna looking to be lights out if they get the ball with a lead. So a few tough losses on the road to start the season are nothing to worry about as this team is too good and too talented to stay down for an extended period of time.

Smart roster management

A.J. Hinch and Roberto Osuna

Roberto Osuna has solidified the back of the Astros bullpen

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Jeff Luhnow and his staff have done an outstanding job managing salaries and extending players on the roster that have outperformed their contract and have proven to be worthy of a fair deal that locks them up for the foreseeable future. The savvy GM has also avoided the temptation of overpaying for talent that may not be as good as what they once were, even if those players were proven veterans that contributed to the teams' recent success, including helping to guide them to their first-ever World Series victory. Evan Gattis, Charlie Morton, and Dallas Keuchel were important cogs in the well-oiled machine that steamrolled to Houston's first baseball title and will always be remembered for all they did while in an Astros uniform.

Adios, Charlie

Charlie Morton AstrosHouston Astros/Facebook

Gattis is still unsigned and there isn't really room for him on the roster with the addition of Michael Brantley and another year of Tyler White and Tony Kemp. Morton got a great deal from Tampa Bay for more money than the Astros were willing to give and with uncertainty about his arm after a few flare-ups last season, the smart move was to thank him for all he did here and wish him well with his future with the Rays. The only guy that Luhnow has left the door open for has been Keuchel, allowing him and his agent Scott Boras to test the market and see what offers they could cultivate before deciding on any possible move to bring him back in the fold.

Soft market

Astros Dallas Keuchel, Jeff Luhnow

Jeff Luhnow has options, including bringing Dallas Keuchel back

Composite photo by Jack Brame

So far Dallas hasn't gotten the big, long term deal he coveted when free agency began and the rumored 5 years, $100 million dollar offers that were expected and virtually promised by Boras have not materialized and panic may be settling in. With the regular season in full swing, the clock is ticking and he needs a team and contract for this year, if not for years to come. Pitchers have to pitch and the best way he can prove he is worth the long term commitment he didn't get this offseason is to get back on the bump and impress the decision makers across the league that were too skeptical and leary to open their checkbooks. What better way to do that and ensure he will get ample opportunities to stack up wins and rack up stats, than with a proven team that features a potent offensive lineup, above average defense and a bullpen capable of holding and saving winning opportunities.

Bring him back?

Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel

Would bringing Keuchel back solidify the Astros starting rotation?

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With all that said, as an Astros fan, would you be willing to take the former Cy Young Award winner back and pay him some pretty significant money for one year or a short term deal of 2-3 seasons? He is looking for $17.5 million for this year and is said to be willing to take a little less per season on a long term agreement. Would he be worth the money? Would he bolster the rotation that much, considering what they already have on the roster? Would he be worth the money or would the team be better off waiting to spend and seeing what needs arise as the season rolls on? I tend to think they are good with what they have and can wait to see what they need, but I know there are others out there who think the experience and veteran leadership Kuechel brings to the table are too good to pass up as long as the price is right. What do you think? Should he stay or should he go? After all, it's always good to have options.

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Rockets defeat Clippers, 116-105 Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

Rookie Cam Whitmore scored 21 points and the Houston Rockets beat the playoff-bound Los Angeles Clippers 116-105 on Sunday to finish at .500 season and avoid a fourth straight losing season.

Rookie Amen Thompson had a triple-double of 18 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists for the already eliminated Rockets, who finished 41-41 in coach Ime Udoka's first season. Houston was 22-60 last year and 20-62 in 2022.

The Pacific Division champion and fourth-seeded Clippers are headed to the playoffs, where they'll meet Luka Donic and the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round next weekend.

Terance Mann scored 24 points and Amir Coffey added 18 for the Clippers in their last regular-season game at Crypto.com Arena. It's where they've juggled dates with the Lakers and NHL’s Kings since 1999. The team is moving to its new Intuit Dome in Inglewood next season.

The Clippers couldn't avoid their first three-game losing streak since James Harden's first game with the team, when they lost six in a row from Nov. 1-14.

Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard missed his eighth straight game because of right knee inflammation. The team went 4-4 over that stretch.

Coach Tyronn Lue gave his usual opaque answers about Leonard’s status for the upcoming playoffs before the game. “We’ll see. He feels OK,” said Lue, who, when asked if Leonard has been working out, said, “He’s been doing a little something.”

Also sitting out for the Clippers were Paul George, Harden, Ivica Zubac, Russell Westbrook, Norman Powell and Bones Hyland, who scored a combined 64 points in his previous three games.

Xavier Moon had 14 points, six rebounds and six assists in his first career start for the Clippers. Moon, a 6-footer, beat 7-foot-4 Boban Marjanovic in a jump ball in the fourth. They matched up again and Marjanovic stuck out his long arm to poke the ball away from Moon.

“He's a big boy,” said Clippers assistant Dan Craig who coached the game, “but X got that jump ball against him.”

Marjanovic scored 13 points in 12 minutes of the fourth. The former Clipper delighted the fans when he smilingly missed two free throws to ensure they would receive free chicken sandwiches.

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