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?

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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 Astros Houston 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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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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