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Astros: On to the Next One

“Kimbrel deals, in the air, deep left field, hit well, Benintendi on the run, he’s got it! The Boston Red Sox are moving on to the 2018 World Series!” BOOM! The Houston Astros season came to an early end, and they were not able to repeat as World Series Champions! A quiet Minute Maid Park crowd in complete shock and in despair to see their Astros lose on their home turf, to the Boston Red Sox. Carlos Correa is looking from the dugout, disgusted, while his teammates hit the locker room. Looking at the Red Sox jump up and down, celebrating on the mound, knowing they beat the defending champs, and are moving on to the World Series. Now, what’s next for the Houston Astros?

Well, injuries during the postseason were killing the Astros, such as a one-legged Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa dealing with an aching back, and Lance McCullers Jr. bothered by his pitching arm. Now, we see Jose Altuve having surgery on his bad right knee, repairing a patella fracture, however, he will be ready for Spring Training in 2019. Just after the last game of the season, rumors were going around saying Lance McCullers might need Tommy John surgery to repair a UCL ligament in his elbow. Carlos has told us throughout the whole postseason, saying “I know every time I swing and miss it’s going to hurt.” He’s been dealing with a bad back since the All-Star Break. With an unhealthy Astros roster, it was hard for the ‘Stros to repeat as World Series champs, however, they never gave up and kept playing every game.

The season is over, and have players becoming free agents. Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, Charlie Morton, Brian McCann, Evan Gattis, and Tony Sipp. Keuchel and Gonzalez spent seven years in the Astros organization from going back-to-back 100 loss seasons, to becoming World Series Champions in 2017. I believe these guys will test free agency and see if they will get a well-qualifying offer. I respect any decision they make and very thankful for their time as a Houston Astro. Charlie Morton has had thoughts on considering retiring from baseball to spend time with his family, but a part of him still wants to play this game. He would like to stay in Houston if he decides not to retire. Brian McCann is an All-Star catcher, but he’s missed almost half the season with an injury and has dealt with some injuries in the past years with Houston. I don’t see the Astros resigning Evan Gattis back since Tyler White has shown the organization that he can replace his role, by having a strong second half of the season.

The Houston Astros have two starting pitchers in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Now, we’re looking for three more starters to fill in the 5-man starting rotation. During the 2018 season, the Astros brought up prospects: Josh James and Framber Valdez, who did not disappoint this year. Collin McHugh was a former starting pitcher in the 2015 season, who was 2nd in Wins in the AL with 19, and behind Keuchel with 20 wins. He could be a strong candidate to get back on the starting rotation.

The Astros have a lot of great pitching prospects, such as Forrest Whitley, J.B. Bukauskas, and Corbin Martin, but we could maybe see Whitley come up in the 2019 season. Although, we need one more power, hard-throwing starting, and relief pitcher. It could be very interesting if Clayton Kershaw opts out of his 2-year remaining contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and become a free agent. If this happens, Coshark has the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros as co-favorites to sign him. Why the Rangers you may ask? Well, Kershaw is from Texas for one, the other point is he’s from Dallas, which is close to Arlington where the Rangers play. Since he’s a Texas native, he would like to play in his home state and be closer back home with his family. Nathan Eovaldi would also be a good acquisition for the Astros. With his hard-throwing fastball and nasty slider, the Alvin native could help the Astros by being a powerful 3rd starter in the rotation. Think about it Verlander, Cole, Eovaldi… that’s a scary hard-throwing rotation going into the postseason. Relief pitchers, we need a big-time lefty reliever! Zach Britton would probably be the Astros top target since Tony Sipp is gone, the Astros would need to get a left-handed pitcher for the lefty on lefty matchup in the bullpen.

We all know Max Stassi helped us this 2018 season with Brian McCann being hurt half the season, but he’s not worthy of being a starting catcher. Free agent players like Yasmani Grandal or Wilson Ramos would be great acquisitions because they are excellent defenders behind the plate and could provide a big bat in that deadly lineup they have right now. On the other hand, the Astros could trade for J.T. Realmuto. However, Derek Jeter is not easy to negotiate with. He wants our top prospects, like Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley, but that won’t happen with Jeff Luhnow in office. Some trade bait could be Corbin Martin, Josh James, Yordan Alvarez, or even Derek Fisher. Don’t be surprised though if we give away good top prospects for J.T.

Nelson Cruz is a big name on that free agent list. Even though the veteran is 40 years old, he’s missing one thing: A World Series Ring! He had multiple chances with the Texas Rangers in 2011 and 2012, when they faced the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants in the World Series, but came up short. Coming into his 14th year in the big leagues, I believe he would be looking for a championship contending team. Houston is in need of a big stick in that 4-6 hole in the lineup, with Minute Maid Park being 315 ft. in left field and 326 ft. in right field, the “Boomstick” could make a big boom at Minute Maid Park.

Can Kyle Tucker come back in 2019 and show the Astros he has potential to become their next superstar? Before the 2018 Spring Training Season, all eyes weren’t on Bregman, Springer, or Altuve; it was on the #1 top prospect in the Houston Astros Farm System: Kyle Tucker! The 21-year-old showed much talent coming into the 2018 Spring Training. Everyone on the team called him “Ted,” because they compared him to the great Ted Williams. The whole Astros organization has big expectations for Kyle Tucker, that he would become the missing piece in that deep, high flying outfield.

When he made his MLB debut against the Chicago White Sox, he had gone 1-4 with a single and three strikeouts. That was just the start for Kyle. Ending the season with 64 at-bats, he batted with a whopping .141 batting average, nine hits, and 4 Runs Batted In. Not a great start, but he’s a rookie and got his feet wet in the Big Leagues. When the season ended, the Astros held a press conference with Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch.

There was a question about Kyle Tucker progress, and Luhnow stated “We’re going to give him a shot, but we're just not going to hand it to him. We’re hoping he takes it.” It’s understandable though that Tucker didn’t look great in 2018, but he would look to bounce back in 2019 with a chance to be on the Houston Astros 2019 Regular Season Roster.

The 2018 Houston Astros is one of the best teams in Franchise History. They had the best starting rotation and bullpen in the MLB. They have the most wins in franchise history and won back-to-back AL West Division Champs. So now what? Well, let’s strap up for the 2019 season, and move on to the next one!