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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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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