Before we get into this match-up between the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros, I must admit the scheduling snafu that occurred within the Wahoo’s on First ranks. I thought Merritt was doing this preview. Merritt thought I was doing it. Whoops! So, in order to rectify the situation we decided there was only one way to handle this. Tag team. That’s right folks, you’re about to get equal parts Brian and Merritt with this one. I’m taking the general part and Merritt is taking the pitching match-ups. Buckle up, folks.
The Indians are welcoming the Houston Astros to Progressive Field for a four game series set to start tonight. The Astros come into play with a record of 51-101 and are every bit as comically bad as that record would indicate. They are in full rebuild mode as they try to turn over a roster with young, aspiring talent. As you would suspect in a situation like this, they have 25 guys on their everyday roster and I’ve maybe heard of two of them. But, that’s how these things tend to go.
The three best players on the Astros’ roster are easily second baseman Jose Altuve, catcher Jason Castro, and first baseman Chris Carter. They lead the Astros in virtually every offensive category including hits and batting average, OPS and runs scored, and home runs and RBI, respectively. Everything seems to begin and end with these three with a smattering of contributions from fringe players like third baseman Matt Dominguez and shortstop Jonathan Villar.
If you feel slightly underwhelmed by that last paragraph, just be glad you aren’t a fan of the Astros and don’t have to watch them play every day. That might qualify as cruel and unusual punishment as it is defined in the Bill of Rights. Yes, it’s that bad. Still not convinced? Take a look at the Astros’ depth chart on ESPN.com. Their extra outfielder right now? None other than Trevor Crowe.
But the future, as far off as it may be for the Astros, does look bright. They just drafted top pitching prospect Mark Appel in this year’s draft. Along with him they also have shortstop Carlos Correa, first baseman Jonathan Singleton, and outfielder George Springer. Combine that with some of the talent already on the roster or the talent that might be acquired by trading the talent on the major league roster and there is a lot to like here, potentially.
The real story here, however, is that the Indians have a real opportunity to make a push in the wild card race. At a half game back of the Rangers for the second spot and a date with the Rays, the Tribe has the easiest possible path to the postseason. These four games against the Astros followed by two against the White Sox and four against the Twins should have everyone salivating over the possibilities.