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Correa sits out finale to rest for ALDS

Astros making postseason roster decisions; prospect Tucker hoping to compete for starting job in 2019
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

BALTIMORE -- The Astros saw enough positive signs out of shortstop Carlos Correa in Saturday's Game 1 win over the Orioles that he wasn't in the lineup for Sunday afternoon's regular-season finale, a 4-0 loss. Correa, who's been dealing with a sore back for months, doubled and homered on Saturday, both to the opposite field.

Correa, the American League's starting shortstop in the All-Star Game last year, hit .239 this year with 15 homers and 65 RBIs in 402 at-bats, including .180 (24-for-133) with two homers and 16 RBIs in 37 games after being activated from the disabled list on Aug. 10. He missed six weeks with a sore back and struggled to find his swing.

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BALTIMORE -- The Astros saw enough positive signs out of shortstop Carlos Correa in Saturday's Game 1 win over the Orioles that he wasn't in the lineup for Sunday afternoon's regular-season finale, a 4-0 loss. Correa, who's been dealing with a sore back for months, doubled and homered on Saturday, both to the opposite field.

Correa, the American League's starting shortstop in the All-Star Game last year, hit .239 this year with 15 homers and 65 RBIs in 402 at-bats, including .180 (24-for-133) with two homers and 16 RBIs in 37 games after being activated from the disabled list on Aug. 10. He missed six weeks with a sore back and struggled to find his swing.

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"We thought hard about what to do with him [on Sunday]," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "We don't have to play three days in a row until a potential ALCS, and so there's the thought to just wait. He was going to have a long break anyway [after the regular season], so why risk anything? He had a great day [Saturday], made great progress moving and just cap the season."

:: ALDS schedule and results ::

Hinch doesn't know how any of his players will respond to the four-day layoff between Sunday's finale and Game 1 of the ALDS on Friday against the Indians, specifically Correa.

"He's going to be the starting shortstop. He's going to factor in and be important," Hinch said. "We hope when the big lights turn on, the rhythm and things he needs to be successful, he'll have. I think he will. Yesterday was a really good sign of two really good swings, made a couple of difficult plays on defense. I don't think we can forget he's a really good player. And really good players step up when you need them the most, and we're going to need that starting Friday."

Decisions, decisions
The Astros won't unveil their ALDS roster until Friday morning, but some decisions have already been made. Hinch said pitchers Dean Deetz and Reymin Guduan and outfielder Kyle Tucker were told they could go home following Sunday's game. Meanwhile, pitchers Framber Valdez and Cionel Perez will be sent to the team's Spring Training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., to work out and stay fresh in case there's an injury.

That leaves Houston with 31 players vying for the 25-man roster. The Astros will carry 14 position players and 11 pitchers (four starters, seven relievers) against the Indians.

Video: HOU@SEA: Stassi launches a towering 3-run homer

In addition to determining which relief pitchers to carry, Hinch said the club is still weighing the idea of carrying a third catcher (Max Stassi along with Martin Maldonado and Brian McCann) or speedy pinch-runner Myles Straw.

"It's a tough one," Hinch said. "Whatever we do, the other situation's going to come up, right? We want the extra runner. You want the extra catcher. There are two different strategies -- one being, would you hit or run for your catcher earlier in the game if you have three? Martin's defense stands out as something that I always want to keep in the game if he's the starting catcher.

"On the flipside of it, a guy like Myles Straw is an upgrade as a pinch-runner to virtually everybody on the field. I wouldn't run for everybody on the field, but there's not a situation where he's not faster than the guy who's on base. … If you could tell me that extra step or that extra two or three steps would come into play, it'd be an easier decision. But we'll debate that back and forth the next couple of days."

Prospect watch

Tucker, the No. 8 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, had a rocky Major League debut in 2018, hitting .145 with no homers and four RBIs. Tucker put up monster numbers at Triple-A Fresno before making his big league debut on July 7 and had a chance to win a starting outfield job. He was called back up in September, but he hasn't played much.

Video: HOU@BAL: Tucker slides to make a nice shoestring grab

"When I talked to him, I congratulated him on his year because I don't want numbers in the big leagues to sour his pride of the kind of season he had," Hinch said. "He dominated the Minor Leagues. He came up here a couple of different times -- the first time had a real opportunity, and this last time was more of a tip of the cap to him for having a successful season.

"I think he's learned a lot. I think he's got to come up with a 'B' swing that will allow it to be more adjustable to different styles of pitches and different ways that guys attack them. We talked a little about his mechanics, about what he's learned, the different pitches he's seen in the big leagues. I told him to come win the job next year as an outfielder. Right now, I don't know what it's going to look like, but if the opportunity is there, he's going to be in the mix to compete to make our team next spring."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Carlos Correa, Kyle Tucker