Will any September call-ups win a spot on the playoff roster?

Predicting the Astros' postseason roster

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

On September 1st, MLB teams expanded to allow the use of the team's entire 40-man roster. While this rule will change next year, it enables clubs, like the Astros, to bring in some fresher and younger players to rest some of their veterans and stars.

With that, we get an opportunity to see promising prospects log time with their big-league club and dabble with going against some of the best in the game. For the Astros, that's meant the return of Kyle Tucker to the major-league squad for the first time since his struggles last year, as well as some position fill-ins like Myles Straw and Garret Stubbs along with some fresh blood in the bullpen from guys like Jose Urquidy and Cionel Perez.

However, this opportunity is exclusive to September. For teams like Houston, who are preparing for the playoffs, they face a tough challenge, which is trimming that roster back down to 25. It becomes additionally tricky if some of the players brought up to add some depth to allow some rest to star players end up showing star potential themselves.

Even further, Houston also has some key pieces returning from injury soon to retake their places on the roster. These include Carlos Correa, Ryan Pressly, and if all goes well, Brad Peacock. So, with a lot of moving pieces, I want to offer my prediction of the Astros' 25-man postseason roster:

The givens

Let's get the easy ones out of the way. For the sake of argument, I'm going to assume Carlos Correa returns in the coming weeks and stays healthy. Also, Yuli Gurriel is expected to return this week, so he's in too. That means this is your playoff starting infield:

1) Yuli Gurriel - 1B
2) Jose Altuve - 2B
3) Alex Bregman - 3B
4) Carlos Correa - SS

Another set of players that should be a lock is the pitching rotation. On Sunday, A.J. Hinch announced that he would be going with a 4-man rotation the rest of the regular season, with two bullpen days along the way when they hit five-straight days with games. I would expect that means they are gearing up for that same set of starters to roll into October:

5) Justin Verlander - SP
6) Gerrit Cole - SP
7) Zack Greinke - SP
8) Wade Miley - SP

Then, you've got some outfielders, hitters, and your primary catcher who will have earned their spots:

9) George Springer - OF
10) Michael Brantley - OF / DH
11 ) Yordan Alvarez - OF / DH
12) Robinson Chirinos - C

That brings us to the bullpen, where you can go ahead and get your pens out for a few arms that are all but guaranteed to be used in the highest of leverage situations in October:

13) Roberto Osuna - RP
14) Ryan Pressly - RP
15) Will Harris - RP
16) Brad Peacock - RP (If Healthy)

That's your set of guys that if you could use them every day to complete a game, you'd expect to win against anyone. That leaves nine more spots.

More depth

Past the above list of no-doubters, you have a few more spots that should belong to your multi-position players, some position depth, and next set of relievers:

17) Aledmys Diaz - IF
18) Josh Reddick - OF
19) Jake Marisnick - OF
20) Martin Maldonado - C
21) Collin McHugh - RP (if healthy)
22) Hector Rondon - RP
23) Josh James - RP

Diaz is your fill-in if you have to fill a hole in the infield. Despite a lot of debate I've seen regarding Reddick, I see no reason to exclude him from the roster in October, and I don't see a reason to leave Marisnick's terrific defensive ability out.

McHugh has a big asterisk next to him right now because of his health, but assuming he can pitch, I think they'll bring him along. Then, I currently have Rondon and James in for their recent success. James has looked sharp since returning from injury, and Rondon has allowed just three runs over his last sixteen appearances.

Who's in, who's out

That leaves two more spots available. I think considering they've got the depth they need on the field with the 23 guys listed above, that they use those for two more arms in the bullpen:

24) Chris Devenski - RP
25) Joe Smith - RP

Devenski has had a rocky year, but I think he still has the trust of Houston's coaching staff. As far as Joe Smith, he did not start his year until July after returning from injury and has performed well, so a combination of less wear and tear along with success, in my opinion, earns him a spot.

With that, I don't have a lot of upsets or controversy taking place going into the playoffs. I think that the Astros are on pace to win 100 games again this year primarily due to the success of the 25 guys listed above, so I don't think that it will be the time to try and experiment. Still, though, Houston will have a solid group of guys ready to come onto the roster should injuries arise:

Garret Stubbs - C
Kyle Tucker - OF
Cionel Perez - RP
Joe Biagini - RP
Framber Valez - RP

In any case, the Astros will have a good problem on their hands trying to construct their playoff roster, because instead of trying to guess which players are worth the spots, they will be instead be splitting hairs on which players will have to be left off.

Houston's magic number is down to 1

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 6-4 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After the mini-sweep of the Rangers concluding with win number 100 on the season which secured a playoff spot, the Astros turned their sights to clinching the division. With their magic number at 2, they could clinch on Friday with a win in the series opener against Los Angeles and an Oakland loss. Here is a recap of the first game of the weekend against the Angels:

Final Score: Astros 6, Angels 4.

Record: 101-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (17-5, 3.05 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jaime Barria (4-10, 6.43 ERA).

1) Starting with a bang

With a chance to clinch their division and continue to lead the battle for playoff home-field advantage, Houston came out swinging on Friday night. In the first inning, the Astros blasted three home runs with solo shots from Jose Altuve which led off the inning, and Alex Bregman as he tries to catch the sidelined Mike Trout for a possible MVP award.

Later in the inning, Carlos Correa took advantage of a runner on base with a home run of his own, a two-run bomb to extend the lead before Josh Reddick tacked on one more with an RBI-single to make it 5-0 after one.

2) Greinke struggles in the fourth but finishes five innings

Zack Greinke allowed just two hits through the first three innings: a single and a solo home run which at the time cut the lead to 5-1. Carlos Correa pushed the lead back to five runs with his second home run of the night in the bottom of the third.

Greinke would struggle in the top of the fourth, however, allowing five straight hits which would score three runs to cut Houston's lead to 6-4. He would recover and toss a 1-2-3 fifth, but that would be it for him in a five-inning start, as Houston passed the ball to their bullpen to throw the last four frames. His final line: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

3) Houston's bullpen dominant the rest of the way

Josh James was the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen to take over for Greinke in the top of the sixth and erased a two-out walk to complete a scoreless inning. Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance in a month after having surgery on his knee, returned dominantly with a 1-2-3 inning.

Will Harris did the same in the top of the eighth, holding the two-run lead going to the ninth. Roberto Osuna had the chance for another save in the top of the ninth and converted it to finish off the 6-4 win. That reduced the magic number to one, meaning the Astros are now a win or Oakland loss away from clinching the American League West. They are also just two wins away from matching last year's franchise number of 103.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set with the Angles will be on Saturday at 6:10 PM. Wade Miley (14-5, 3.71 ERA) will get the start for Houston while Patrick Sandoval (0-3, 4.91 ERA) is expected to be on the mound for Los Angeles.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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