Worth the baggage?

A look at what Osuna brings to the Astros from a baseball perspective

Roberto Osuna from a baseball perspective is a great addition. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Houston Astros acquired Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna via trade on Monday afternoon.  Going to Toronto will be Ken Giles, David Paulino, and Hector Perez. Almost all of these players aside from Perez come with baggage.  Giles punched himself in the face, then cursed his manager out on the field a few months later, earning him a one-way ticket to AAA. Paulino was suspended last season for PED use.  However, neither Giles or Paulino have anywhere near the baggage that Osuna does, who was suspended 75 games for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy.

People are understandably upset, but before we get to that let’s take a look at the baseball reasons behind acquiring Osuna.

Osuna is one of the most promising young arms in baseball.  The 23-year-old made the all-star game last season, and in his three seasons has already amassed over 100 saves, has a career ERA of 2.87, and has a career K/9 of 10.2 comparing to a 1.2 BB/9.  Essentially, he’s elite.

The stuff looks equally as elite.  He has a fastball that sits 95-96 that he runs up to 98, and a devastating wipeout slider in the 87-88 range.  Speaking purely from a baseball perspective, the Astros just acquired that shutdown closer that everyone has been pining for since 2015.

Unfortunately, baseball isn’t the only question here.  Osuna was arrested on May 8th on suspicion of assaulting a woman.  Major League Baseball reviewed the facts of the case, and ultimately suspended Osuna for 75 games, retroactive to May 8th.  His suspension comes to an end on Aug. 4, meaning he could possibly be donning an Astros uniform by the end of the week.

“My office has completed its investigation into the allegation that Roberto Osuna violated Major League Baseball’s Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy on May 8, 2018.  Having reviewed all of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Osuna violated the Policy and should be subject to discipline in the form of an unpaid suspension that will expire on August 4th,” Manfred said via press release.

People are upset with Jeff Luhnow and the Houston Astros for acquiring someone with that sort of baggage, but here’s what the Astros have to say.

“We are excited to welcome Roberto Osuna to our team,” said Luhnow.  “The due diligence by our front office was unprecedented. We are confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind.  Roberto has some great examples of character in our existing clubhouse that we believe will help him as he and his family establish a fresh start as he continues with the Houston Astros. We look forward to Osuna’s contributions as we head into the back half of the season.”

Osuna also released a statement following the trade.

“I am excited to join the Houston Astros and move forward with a fresh start to my career,” said Osuna.  “The positive character of my new teammates is a big reason for their success and I look forward to bringing a positive contribution to this great group of guys as we work towards many more winning seasons.  I thank Jeff Luhnow and the entire Astros organization for believing in me — I will not let them down.”

I do not condone violence or domestic violence in any way, and I understand everyone that is upset with the Astros for acquiring a player with this back story.  At the same time, I love a good redemption story, and I hope Osuna proves he is worth the second chance. He also hasn’t been to court and hasn’t been convicted of a crime yet.  

I would hate to be judged by the worst thing I’ve ever said or ever done, and I’m sure everyone reading this feels that same way.  Unfortunately for Osuna, what’s probably the worst thing he’s ever done has played out where everyone can see.

Osuna is also a troubled soul who has admitted to issues with mental illness and anxiety in the past.  Last season, Osuna took time away from baseball to address anxiety and depression issues. He said he was unhappy and that he never wanted to feel like that again.

I hope Osuna truly does feel sorry for what he’s done, and I hope he grows from this experience and never does it again.  However, I also hope Osuna comes to Houston and experiences great success, overcomes his mental health issues, and is a happy human being.  At the end of the day, we all deserve to be happy.

Osuna’s court date is Aug. 1.  He has been in AAA on a rehab assignment.  He hasn’t allowed a run in six innings pitched across three different minor league levels.


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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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