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Who Starts When George Comes Back?

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Too many worthy players is a good problem to have

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In the world of Astros news, Evan Drellich posted yesterday that George Springer will have a doctor visit shortly after returning from the current road trip.  This will hopefully allow the team to have a timetable for his return to action.  The team has missed him while he has been gone, but his return will bring a new set of issues, first of which is who is going to get playing time…and where?

At the beginning of the season it was easy.  You had three good outfielders in Colby Rasmus, Jake Marisnick and Springer.  Chris Carter was going to be at first and Evan Gattis would be your everyday designated hitter.  Since then a lot has happened.  Marisnick and Carter’s bats have not been that good.  Springer had his wrist broken for him.  Rookie Preston Tucker was called up and has shown he is a solid major league hitter.  The team went out and acquired Carlos Gomez just before the trade deadline.  All of these make the situation more complicated.  That is, if having too many worthy players fighting for not enough positions complicated.

So when Springer (hopefully) makes his way off of the disabled list in a few weeks the assumption is that he will go back into right field.  Center field will be handled by Gomez.  The only spot remaining is left field for two players, Rasmus and Tucker.  At the plate both of these guys are pretty comparable.  Their OPS is within a few points of each other.  I think Rasmus gets this spot on his defensive ability.  Tucker isn't horrible out there, but if the bat isn't a significant plus, the defense has to win out.

Now that we have the outfield settled, what do we do with Tucker?  One place I know he will not play is first base. Valbuena has played well enough after there since the return of Jed Lowrie that most of that talk has died down.  The only other place to get Tucker’s bat into the lineup every day is at DH.

So it comes down to Tucker or Gattis at that spot.  I don’t know the answer to that question.  You can’t use platoon splits because neither one has hit lefties that well this season.  If you want to look at stats like ISO or OPS+ Tucker has a slight advantage, but then do you sit one of your big offseason pieces and make him a bench bat?  What are your ideas?

Maybe Gattis moves back to catcher…