The Z Report

Lance Zierlein: Texans effective use of free agency means patching up wounded roster

The Texans get some much-needed help in the secondary. Jaguars.com

Most every NFL team would agree that the construction of winning team must begin from the ground up. That obviously means that drafting and developing your own talents is essential, not just for longer-term windows of success, but for financial feasibility. Teams need to hit on their early round draft picks since those players typically are the most high impact players, but success in the middle and late round picks is essential because they are less expensive and create needed financial freedom for tweaking the team through free agency.

Band-Aids and peroxide

To be clear, free agency absolutely has value, but it should never be used to build the core of a team. Organizations who try to buy their way into blue chip talents ultimately pay a premium price for a player who can have a long-term, negative financial impact on a roster if he busts. If you bust on a first round pick, it doesn’t prevent the team from continuing to make necessary moves to the roster. Bust on a tier one free agent and you pay the iron price (well maybe not the “iron price” if you’ve seen Game of Thrones).

The Houston Texans roster is like a wound that is bleeding all over the kitchen. They haven’t hit an artery, but their offensive line and secondary is definitely getting figurative blood all over the kitchen floor. Texans general manager Brian Gaine is going to utilize free agency for what it should be used for… band-aids and peroxide. Band-aids will stop the bleeding, but the peroxide can help get you better.

Aaron Colvin, CB, Jacksonville (Peroxide): Colvin is solid but hardly spectacular at cornerback. He’s got good size and might be able to play outside in taking over Johnathan Joseph’s spot. There is also a chance that he could play in the slot which would hasten Kareem Jackson’s move to safety (or departure from roster). Colvin will get a four year deal and will be a starter, but the Texans will still need to target a cornerback in the draft.

Seantrel Henderson, OT, Buffalo (Band-Aid): Henderson is a big, powerful tackle with long arms and a lack of starts over the last couple of years. Henderson has missed time due to Crohn’s disease and a 10-game game suspension for a second violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Henderson is no lock to become a starter this year, but he has a decent shot at it. With a one-year deal, Henderson is definitely a stop-gap.

Zach Fulton, OG/OC, Kansas City (Peroxide): Fulton has experience as a guard and center but might be coming to the Texans as a starting center which would likely mean Nick Martin would be forced to move to the guard spot. While Fulton and Martin both have experience at guard and center (Martin played some guard at Notre Dame), the Texans may find that the optimal combination is with Fulton at guard and Martin at center. Fulton isn’t going to set the world on fire but he should become a core member of a re-tooled offensive line.

 

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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