MOVES ARE NOT A NECESSITY, BUT COULD REALLY HELP THE TEAM PUSH FOR ANOTHER TITLE

Luhnow says Astros looking for a starter and a catcher; what about a reliever?

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Jeff Luhnow met the media Monday before the start of the Astros home game with the hard-charging Oakland A's and told everyone within earshot that the team would like to add a starting pitcher and a catcher before the trade deadline at the end of the month. With all the injuries to the starting pitchers that had given Luhnow and AJ Hinch the gluttony of riches a year ago of so many to pitchers to chose from, it has become evident that help is needed to fill out the rotation before they hit the stretch run towards the playoffs. Justin Verlander, Wade Miley, and Gerrit Cole are firmly entrenched at the top of the staff, but help is needed to replace the injured Lance McCullers and Brad Peacock, as well as the one-time starter Collin McHugh who is now back in the bullpen. The young arms on the farm system were given a chance, but they cannot be counted on for consistency and quality starts when the playoffs roll around and any slip up is magnified and could be the difference between advancing and being sent home. With all the big named starting pitchers on the market this year, there are plenty of options and varying contract terms out there to chose from as Luhnow attempts to make a deal.

Adding a catcher makes sense

After getting off to a red-hot start and close consideration for a spot on the All-Star team, catcher Robinson Chirinos has cooled off at the plate and needs to catch a few days off behind the plate to assure he is fresh for the playoffs. He has been better than expected and has the total trust and confidence of the pitching staff, but the team does not want him catching 3 games in a row and Max Stassi has not been able to step up and carry the torch when called on this season, battling through injuries and inconsistencies. Luhnow was hot after ex-Astro Martim Maldanado before the Cubs acquired him in a trade with the Royals a few weeks back. That has left Luhnow and his staff to scour the market and see who else is out there, available and not too expensive to obtain. The goal is to save the top prospects and only consider a move for one of them if it is for a front line starter that has some level of remaining team control. Trading for a catcher would not seem to be an option for the likes of Kyle Tucker, Forrest Whitley or any other top prospect in the Houston system. Ideally, the team would prefer to part with a younger player down on the farm or a more experienced player with some major league experience that isn't in their plans for this season or in the short term.

You can't have too many arms 

The newest concern for the team seems to be in the bullpen where the arms are starting to run thin with injuries and extended use and AJ Hinch getting so concerned that he actually gave Ryan Pressly a full series off against the Rangers. Josh James was the latest casualty after he was taken out of the game Sunday with concerns of arm fatigue, velocity issues and a fear that there may be more to the diagnosis than just too many appearances recently. As long as Luhnow and his staff have time before the deadline, why not explore the options out there to add another arm to the mix in the bullpen? Hinch does not have the plethora of options he once had not too long ago when he walks to the mound to get one of his starters. Hector Rondon has really struggled of late and has been susceptible to the long ball while giving up 9 earned runs in his last 5.2 innings pitched. Chris Devinsky is a shell of his All-Star season of a few years ago and Will Harris has had a rough month of July after a steady start to the season. McHugh has been injured most of the year and Joe Smith just rejoined the team earlier this month after being out the entire year after Achilles surgery. The younger guys like James and Framber Valdez have been very inconsistent and not what the organization had hoped for heading into the season. I say all of this to say that Luhnow and his staff should leave no stone unturned and try to add another arm or two to the pen as long as they are out there and active in the trade market. The hope would be to find a seller that is looking to rebuild and would only require a low-level prospect or two to get a deal done. At the end of the day, a division title is not the end goal for this team and anything short of another World Series appearance would be viewed by most observers as a disappointment. Jeff Luhnow it's time for you to play the role of Monty Hall and get on the phone to find teams willing and able to trade. Let's make a deal, or two or maybe even three so that this team can finish what it started and write some more history for H-Town and Astros fans everywhere!

Houston will look to even the series in Game 2

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALCS Game 2 Preview

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Houston's performance in Game 1 of the ALCS was a night to forget. The Yankees dominated on both sides of the ball en route to a 7-0 victory, which halted any momentum that Houston had built by winning their way into the series with their big Game 5 win in the ALDS.

However, the ALCS is a seven-game series, which means that overcoming a 1-0 deficit is something that a team of Houston's caliber should be able to do. What the Astros have in their favor is that they had arguably their worst starter of the first three games take the mound in Game 1, and in Game 2, they will have Justin Verlander. Here is a quick preview of Game 2 that will take place Sunday night:

Game Facts

When: Sunday, 7:08 p.m Central.

Where: Minute Maid Park - Houston, Texas.

TV: FS1.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Justin Verlander vs. James Paxton

Series: Yankees lead 1-0.

Series schedule

Date & Time (Central)LocationPitching matchup
Game 1Yankees 7, Astros 0Minute Maid Park, Houston TXGreinke (L) vs Tanaka (W)
Game 2Sunday 10/13, 7:08 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXVerlander vs Paxton
Game 3Tuesday 10/15, 3:08 PMYankee Stadium, Bronx NYCole vs Severino
Game 4Wednesday 10/16, 7:08 PMYankee Stadium, Bronx NYTBD vs TBD
Game 5*Thursday 10/17, 7:08 PMYankee Stadium, Bronx NYTBD vs TBD
Game 6*Saturday 10/19, 3:08 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXTBD vs TBD
Game 7*Sunday 10/20, 6:38 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXTBD vs TBD

* If necessary
+ Projected Starters

Game Storylines

Houston needs a big day from Verlander

With the Yankees' bats overpowering Houston pitching in Game 1, the Astros will look to Justin Verlander to try and hold the potent lineup in check to keep them from putting the game out of reach as they did on Saturday against Zack Greinke and Ryan Pressly. Verlander will rise to the moment well, like he always does, and could be just what the Astros need to hold New York at bay.

The intriguing storyline to see will be how Verlander can manage his pitch count. Greinke was able to do great in this area on Saturday, finishing six innings with a pitch count that, if needed, could have allowed him to go deeper. With Verlander working for more strikeouts than contact, it would be a significant benefit to the Astros if he can go deep into Game 2.

Astros need offense to build on

Houston's bats went nearly silent in Game 1. They cannot allow that to happen again on Sunday. While coming out and putting up a huge first inning would bode well for them, the Astros would also do well to get some offense to build on in the early goings of the game to capture some momentum that they can use to get the crowd behind them to shake the Yankees off their game.

I would expect one, or several, of Houston's key bats to have a huge game to even this series up before it shifts to the Bronx for three games. As was seen in Game 1, it's unlikely that the Yankees will go down without getting a few big hits that usually result in runs. The Astros need to put up as many runs as possible to keep the Yankees out of reach.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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