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

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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?

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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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After dropping the middle game to the Rangers to split the first two games, the Astros looked for an improved offensive showing in the finale on Thursday night to take the series. Here is a rundown of the rubber game:

Final Score: Astros 2, Rangers 1.

Record: 25-25, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (4-3, 3.82 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jordan Lyles (1-5, 7.07 ERA).

Valdez another Houston pitcher to thrive against Rangers

Much like Jose Urquidy on Tuesday and Lance McCullers JR. on Wednesday, Framber Valdez put up an excellent pitching line on Thursday against the Rangers. After allowing two singles in the first and a single in the second, he would settle in and hold the Rangers to just one baserunner, which came via a walk through six frames.

He would try to get through the seventh, but after a long at-bat and one-out double, Dusty Baker would stop his night and go to the bullpen. Unfortunately, that double would end up scoring as Josh James would allow an RBI-single, charged to Valdez, before finishing the inning. Along the way, Valdez was able to ring up eleven Rangers. His final line: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 0 HR, 100 P.

Kyle Tucker gets the big hit of the night

Luckily, Houston was still in the lead after the Rangers' run, thanks to a big hit by Kyle Tucker back in the second inning. After Alex Bregman reached base on a walk to become the first runner for the Astros, Kyle Tucker would break out of his recent slump with a two-run home run, putting Houston ahead 2-0 at the time.

Jordan Lyles was otherwise handling the Astros just like Kyle Gibson the night prior, who threw a complete-game shutout. Other than the Tucker homer, Lyles allowed another hit in the second and one in the third before retiring the next 12 Astros in order before an error in the seventh broke that streak, giving Houston their first baserunner since two outs in the third.

Houston takes the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James returned to the mound to start the eighth, and he would get a 1-2-3 inning against the top of Texas' lineup, including back-to-back strikeouts to end it. After another scoreless inning by Houston at the plate, that would set up a save opportunity in the top of the ninth. The opportunity would go to Brooks Raley, and he would notch the save with a scoreless inning, giving Houston the series and moving them back up to .500 at 25-25.

Up Next: The Astros' final three regular-season games played at Minute Maid Park in 2020 are this weekend in a series against the Diamondbacks. In Friday's 7:10 PM opener, Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.77 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston while Zac Gallen (1-2, 3.15 ERA) will be the starter for Arizona.

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