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The Looming Roster Crunch 2.0

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

In April I wrote about a possible roster crunch. The fundamentals of the pre-September 1st roster are this:

  • Hinch/Luhnow have shown a desire to limit the BP to 7, but also have an extreme aversion to BP overuse
  • Kemp and White cannot be sent down without clearing waivers
  • any bench must have a backup catcher and a utility IF, neither of which are White/Kemp

Now that it’s the last week of June, let’s take a look at the current roster:

  • SP (5), and you know who they are
  • RP (7): Osuna, Pressly, Harris, James, Rondon, McHugh, Devenski
  • Everyday Starters (8): Brantley, Springer, Reddick, Gurriel, Altuve, Bregman, Chirinos, Alvarez
  • Bench-y: (5) White, Kemp, Stassi, Marisnick, Straw

Returning imminently: Joe Smith

Returning within a month: Correa, Diaz

Assuming nobody else gets hurt, the most obvious roster swap would be Correa/Diaz for Straw. While there are multiple guys who can play 2b/3b/1b, the only real SS are Bregman and Straw, and even that’s stretching it. Given that Straw has played sparingly as the team has gotten healthier (one start in 7 games), and that he has a full stack of options, that move is clear.

What’s not clear is what happens when Smith comes back in a few days. Of the most shuttled relievers this season (Guduan, C Perez, Framber), they’re either already down or starting. And the BP is just at 7. Luhnow would have to option Devo or James, either of which seems very unlikely. Both of those guys can give multiple innings in a BP without a true long man. Unless the BP seems super rested, I imagine Smith replaces the 5th bench-y guy.

Stassi is the one lock. So Straw, Marisnick, Kemp, or White are most likely to go, unless Alvarez goes 0-30 with 18Ks. Is Straw really the one who will go down? He has the arm strength to play SS, and can also play all 3 OF positions. Don’t be shocked if it’s Kemp or White.

And that’s only for now. Given how Alvarez has played his way into the everyday lineup, what happens if Correa and Diaz are both ready in three weeks? Two more guys need to go down. At least one is Kemp/White.

That doesn’t even get to Tucker. who’s closing in on 800 PAs in AAA. He’s probably up before September 1st. Serious roster moves are coming for the 2019 WS champs. Is the crunch just a figment of my imagination? Can Luhnow play out the string until September? What does Astros Nation think?