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Game Preview, August 19, 2020, Astros @ Rockies

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The Astros hope to continue in Denver what they started in Houston.

MLB: AUG 18 Rockies at Astros Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Astros are in second place in the AL West, 2.5 games behind the Oakland A’s.

It’s a fricking miracle.

The Astros have lost Justin Verlander for all but one game, Brad Peacock, Chris Devenski, Roberto Osuna, and Aledmys Diaz. George Springer is hitting .200 and Jose Altuve has to crane his head sharply upward to even see the light of a .200 average. Michael Brantley has missed eight of 23 games, and then there is...

Yordan Alvarez. The Astros super-slugger played two tantalizing games and it was announced today that he’s off to the surgeon’s table to repair a knee tendon. Out for the remainder of the season.

The Astros have had as many as 11 rookies on the pitching staff at one time, currently seven, plus a guy name Blake Raley.

Who are the WAR leaders on this second place Astros team right now? Zack Greinke and Yuli Gurriel are first and second. Given the absence of Verlander, Greinke is not that surprising, but I doubt anyone would have guessed Gurriel would have surpassed Springer, Correa, Altuve, Brantley at this point in the season.

Let’s look at the next five.

Andre Scrubb, AA in 2019. 1.1 bWAR

Framber Valdez, 107 career IP. 5.86 2019 ERA. .9 bWAR

Cristian Javier, 11 innings at AAA in 2019. .8 bWAR

Brandon Bielak, AAA in 2019 .8 bWAR

Blake Bailey, AA in 2019 .7 bWAR

So the Astros are in second place and have won six straight games with these five guys who have more WAR than Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Michael Brantley. And another rookie pitcher, Enoli Paredes, one of the heroes in last night’s 2-1 extra inning victory, is ahead of former MVP Jose Altuve, whose WAR is in negative territory.

So, to repeat, the Astros are 13-10 for the season, 2.5 games out of first place, and their seven top players are Zack Greinke, Yuli Gurriel, Andre Scrubb, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Brandon Bielak, and Blake Bailey.

You predicted that, I know.

Tonight the fourth best player on the Astros, Framber Valdez, starts for the Astros in the hitter-friendly confines of mile-high Coors Field in Denver.

His opponent is 24 year-old rookie Ryan Casstellani, who, in 8.2 innings pitched, has a 1.04 ERA.

Go Stros.