Projecting the Astros ALDS roster

The playoffs are back in Houston! The Houston Astros racked up 101 wins in 2017 and head home smoking hot after taking three of four games from their first round opponent, the Boston Red Sox, on the road to close out the regular season.

Though rosters are at 40 players in the month of September, only 25 players will be carried for the American League Divisional Series and beyond. Here’s who I think should make the team.

Starting Rotation

1. Justin Verlander
2. Dallas Keuchel
3. Charlie Morton
4. Collin McHugh

Verlander has been the best pitcher in baseball since joining Houston Aug. 31, going 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA with the Astros. Keuchel seems to be on the mend after missing nearly two months of action; his last three starts have all been six innings long and two earned runs or less. Why Morton and McHugh here? Because even though Brad Peacock has been the Astros third-best starter this season, he also has been a bona fide weapon coming out of the bullpen this year and makes the transition back to the ‘pen much easier than McHugh does. Plus, Lance McCullers, Jr. doesn’t look completely healthy and has been consistently roughed up since July.

Bullpen

Ken Giles
Chris Devenski
Will Harris
Joe Musgrove
Brad Peacock
Lance McCullers
Luke Gregerson
Francisco Liriano

Despite some early season struggles, Giles has quietly turned things around this season, giving up just three earned runs in 23 August and September appearances to lower his ERA to 2.30 on the season. While Devenski has given up five runs in his nine September appearances, he has allowed just one baserunner to Boston all season in three appearances and three innings of work. Harris nearly doubled his career K/BB rate this season. Since moving to the bullpen, Musgrove has lowered his ERA by 1.35 and has given up just five runs in 31 and 1/3 innings, an ERA of 1.44. In his first 12 relief appearances in 2017, Peacock had an ERA of 1.10. Gregerson has struggled this season and sports a 7.71 ERA in September but was Team USA’s closer at the World Baseball Classic and can’t have fallen apart that badly, right? Liriano is the designated left-handed batter specialist and has opponents slashing .105/.227/.158 in September. And Lance McCullers once did this to a baseball:

Position Players

Starters
2. Brian McCann
3. Yuli Gurriel
4. Jose Altuve
5. Alex Bregman
6. Carlos Correa
7. Marwin Gonzalez
8. George Springer
9. Josh Reddick
DH. Evan Gattis

Bench
DH Carlos Beltran
C Juan Centeno
OF Derek Fisher
OF Cameron Maybin

Carrying a third catcher like Centeno gives Manager A.J. Hinch the flexibility to insert Gattis’ bat into the lineup as the DH. Fisher and Maybin provide speed on the basepaths as well as plus gloves in the outfield to sub in for Gonzalez in the later innings. Beltran has not played well this season, but he’s one of the best postseason hitters of all time, slashing .323/.432/.646 for his career.

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