Predicting the Houston Astros American League Championship Series Roster
The American League Championship Series is scheduled to start Wednesday, and with the current roster set at 12 pitchers and 14 position players, the Houston Astros are more than likely to revert to 13 pitchers and 13 position players.
Will Smith, Phil Maton — who were out for the postseason — were both removed from the American League Division Series roster. The Astros carried starting pitchers Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia in the bullpen.
It worked out well. In Game 3 of the ALDS, Houston’s pitching star, Garcia, was still in place while Urquidy waited for his turn in case an emergency. All three of these pitchers will be on the ALCS roster, while they compete to start Game 4, behind Lance McCullers Jr.
Whichever pitcher isn’t given a start, there will be long-relief options from the bullpen. After Saturday’s performance, Garcia proved he should be considered for Game 4 ..
Starting pitchers: Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia
Manager Dusty Baker has already named Justin Verlander the Astros’ Game 1 starter with Framber Valdez and McCullers presumably following for Games 2 and 3. This projection has Garcia as the fourth starter, but Javier or Urquidy could also be included.
Urquidy is a star on the World Series stage but not in the ALDS or ALCS. He didn’t appear in any capacity during the ALDS, but over 11 postseason appearances since 2019, Urquidy has amassed a 4. 05 ERA. This number was inflated by the shelling against Boston last season, where he was given a hook after five outs.
Urquidy has shown his best numbers in the World Series, starting two of his four outings and totaling 11.1 innings of work — his most of any series in the postseason. He allowed just two combined runs in that sample, striking out 11 total batters in the process without one walk.
Javier posted the highest numbers during the regular season in the starting position. His 2. 54 ERA was sported behind 30 appearances, 25 of those being starts. Javier also struck out 11. 74 batters per nine innings which was third best on the staff.
Bullpen: Ryan Pressly, Ryne Stanek, Jose Urquidy, Cristian Javier, Rafael Montero, Hector Neris, Will Smith, Bryan Abreu and Hunter Brown
Will Smith fills into the final bullpen spot for the 13-man pitching staff. Baker has requested a lefty for the regular season as well as for all postseason series.
The front office and James Click, the general manager, left Smith off in October’s series. But it is now that the lefty can make it to the roster. Smith flipped his season after he arrived in Houston before the trade deadline.
The lefty tossed 22 innings in relief for the Astros, yielding eight runs across his 24 appearances. Smith’s raw numbers do not tell the whole story. After Houston had not thrown the pitch for two seasons, Houston’s coaching staff introduced a changeup to Smith’s arsenal. He also increased his slider usage over his four-seam fastball.
Scroll to continue
Smith threw only 11 changeups — nine to right-handed hitters. Four of the four changeups were put in play by opposing hitters, with none of them resulting from hits. Although there isn’t much in the sample, it is worth spending some time watching Smith’s pitch selection if he makes the roster.
If Smith is not the answer, the Astros should consider Seth Martinez to fill the final bullpen spot. Martinez was optioned Sept. 16 as the corresponding move for Verlander’s return from the injured list.
Martinez thrives on righties. The 28-year-old held his split to a .135/.214/. 180 clip in 99 plate appearances, but lefties gave Martinez more trouble. The matchup against Martinez was a. 777 OPS against Martinez in 56 meetings, showing the reliever would better against a more righty-favored roster.
The New York Yankees as well as the Cleveland Guardians both displayed cards of three out of four left-handed players, including multiple switch hitters in Cleveland. Houston could choose to go with the lefty arm with more postseason experience, rather than Smith or Martinez.
Catchers: Martin Maldonado and Christian Vazquez
Infielders: Yuli Gurriel, Trey Mancini, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Jeremy Pena
Outfielders: Yordan Alvarez, Chas McCormick and Kyle Tucker
Utility: Aledmys Diaz, Mauricio Dubon and David Hensley
There’s a case the Astros could stick with their ALDS roster for the ALCS. Although it’s not a strong one with plenty of starting options, it will save the Astros some time with piggyback outings with arms like Urquidy Javier and Garcia.
But this is an aggressive plan. Jake Meyers is the best option for any of the bench bats that might be recalled from the roster. After a pair of strikeouts, the center fielder was pinch-hit for Game 2 of ALDS.
While Meyers may have more plate appearances than Mauricio dubon, his versatility is not as extensive as his fellow center field option. Meyers is not on the ALCS roster, so David Hensley will be in the lineup for this option. Hensley is known for his versatility and superior output at the plate over the second-year outfielder.
More From SI’s Inside The Astros:
- Could Mike Trout Request a Trade to the Houston Astros?
- Report: Former Astros Pitcher Fiers’ Contract Terminated By CPBL Club
- Can the Houston Astros Handle the Loss of Yordan Alvarez?
- Is There Any Hope for an Aging Yuli Gurriel?
- Grading the Houston Astros MLB Trade Deadline Transactions
- Jeremy Pena isn’t Competing for Rookie of the Year, And That’s a Good Thing
- Houston Astros Poised to Make Another World Series Run
- Mancini Mania: Behind the Houston Astros’ Latest Streak of History
- Trey Mancini Gives Houston Astros a Much Deeper Lineup
- Yordan Alvarez Stopped Striking Out and Became the Best Hitter in Baseball
Make sure to follow Inside the Astros on Twitter @InsideAstrosSI!
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.