Make some room

Why the roster expansion is significant for the 2018 Astros

Tyler White is earning his spot on the Astros' roster. Houston Astros/Facebook

This summer was an eventful one for Houston with Altuve, Springer and Correa hitting the DL among other injuries. Putting aside the tough losses to key competitors and those who remain on the DL, we have to look at the lineup that got the Astros through that stretch. With the roster expansion coming Saturday, this team will be ready for important matchups that are coming up such as those with Boston and Seattle.

There are two names that stand out in my mind when it comes to roster expansions: Tyler White and Max Stassi. These are two guys that have been playing quite regularly with the Astros, but we can't forget: that wouldn't be the case without all of Houston's injuries this season. Stassi and White are two huge reasons why the September call-ups are especially significant for this Astros team. The two have proven their worth to this team but still swing between Triple-A and the majors due to the depth of the Astros' clubhouse. As the rosters expand, these are just two of the players that the Astros will be able to rely on when the hits aren't coming, such as in Correa's 11-for-68 month of August, without having to worry about catching a flight to Fresno once another starter becomes healthy again.

White has made a few trips to Triple-A this season but was often called up following an injury. In the month of August, he has eight homers with 22 RBI in 22 games. With a .317, he is also the only Astro above .300 besides Jose Altuve, not to mention his clutch hits in late innings, such as his walk-off homer to win one of the biggest series the Astros have played this season against Oakland.

Max Stassi has also been a crucial member of the active roster through Brian McCann's absence. His ability to handle the Astros' starting rotation has earned him a regular spot in the lineup along with Martín Maldonado. They've proven to be a reliable duo behind the plate, but the corresponding move for McCann's return would have been inevitable. Through the expansion, McCann will be able to come up without anyone having to be sent down.

Kyle Tucker is likely to come back to the Astros and will hopefully bring the bat that's been incredibly hot for him in Fresno recently. Since being sent to Fresno earlier in August, the 21-year-old has crushed seven homers in seven games for 15 RBI, with a .531 average. Other possible call-ups include JD Davis, who has managed a .368 average since being sent down for Correa's return and Derek Fisher as Jake Marisnick remains on the DL. Cionel Perez, who maintains a 3.86 ERA in 2018, is also likely to come up as another left-handed reliever to add depth to the bullpen. If these guys can bring their Triple-A stats to Houston, it'll take the Astros to another level.

This is just another step towards another memorable playoff run. Especially in the wildly competitive AL West, these call-ups have the potential to really bring this team to the level they need to be at as they approach one of the most important stretches of their season. 

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Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

PROBABLE STARTERS

Thurs, Sept. 24 - HOU: Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.33) vs. TEX: Lance Lynn (6-2, 2.53)

Fri, Sept. 25 - HOU: Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78) vs. TEX: Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53)

Sat, Sept. 26 - HOU: TBD vs. TEX: Kyle Gibson (2-6, 5.87)

Sun, Sept. 27 - HOU: TBD vs. TEX: Jordan Lyles (1-5, 7.07)

STORYLINES

Season finale - The Astros will wrap up their regular season with their four game set in Arlington at the new Globe Life Field. Houston's magic number rests at two, as the Angels still have a puncher's chance. With Houston's miserable 8-20 road record, the postseason is anything but clinched.

Where's the offense? - The Astros offense has left a lot to be desired over the last few weeks, scoring more than three runs just twice in their last ten games. The bats really need to get going, especially if the team expects to do anything in the playoffs. George Springer has been the only reliable bat of late, with the performances of Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, and, most of all, Jose Altuve, leaving a lot to be desired.

Playoff seeding - If the playoffs started today, the Astros would face off with their division rivals in Oakland. There's an infinite number of possibilities over the next four games, but the Astros can see themselves finish anywhere from the fifth seed to out of the playoffs entirely. Any of Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Oakland, Chicago, New York, and Cleveland could be first round foes depending on how the cards fall.

PREDICTION

Lance Lynn has been one of the better pitchers in the game for a few years now, Kyle Cody is an intriguing young arm with good stuff, and Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson gave the Astros fits in Houston just last week. It isn't a recipe for success for Houston. The Astros win 1 of 4, which combined with the Angels and Mariners failing to take care of business, is enough to get Houston into the playoffs.

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