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Key moves prepare Astros for postseason run

Houston adds depth to bullpen, catcher prior to non-waiver Trade Deadline
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

SEATTLE -- The Astros tried to add a bat prior to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline -- pursuing Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham before he was dealt to Tampa Bay -- but wound up not beefing up an offense that's struggling without injured stars Jose Altuve (knee) and Carlos Correa (back) in the lineup.

Still, the Astros significantly bolstered their bullpen in the days leading up to the Deadline by landing former All-Star closer Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays and veteran right-hander Ryan Pressly from the Twins. They also traded for catcher Martin Maldonado from the Angels, a move that should help them control the running game significantly better.

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SEATTLE -- The Astros tried to add a bat prior to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline -- pursuing Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham before he was dealt to Tampa Bay -- but wound up not beefing up an offense that's struggling without injured stars Jose Altuve (knee) and Carlos Correa (back) in the lineup.

Still, the Astros significantly bolstered their bullpen in the days leading up to the Deadline by landing former All-Star closer Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays and veteran right-hander Ryan Pressly from the Twins. They also traded for catcher Martin Maldonado from the Angels, a move that should help them control the running game significantly better.

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"Our best acquisitions, no matter what, are going to be when Altuve and Correa get back," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "It's been great to see the new additions here. We're going to continue to evolve as a team and get healthier. I'm very happy with the moves we made and happier that we're getting healthier as the days go."

The Astros were left short-handed in the bullpen last year, especially after Ken Giles -- who's been traded to Toronto -- melted down in the World Series. Hinch used starters Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers Jr. and Brad Peacock in relief instead, but it's a clear a dominant closer remained a need. They got that in Osuna, assuming his off-the-field issues don't cloud his future.

Hector Rondon inherited the closer's role earlier this year while Giles struggled again, but the job will likely be Osuna's when he's activated Sunday. Osuna's 75-game suspension handed down in May under the MLB-MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy runs through Saturday.

Video: Osuna heads to Astros in return for Giles, prospects

While Giles relied on an upper-90s fastball and a slider that could be devasting, Osuna can throw a mid-90s four-seam fastball, slider, sinker, cutter and even an occasional changeup. He's saved 104 games in four seasons in the rugged American League East with a 23.6 percent swing-and-miss rate.

Meanwhile, Pressly struck out 69 batters in 47 2/3 innings with the Twins and also has the ability to miss bats. While he was in Minnesota, opposing hitters whiffed on 36.6 percent of the swings they took against him this season, which is the fifth-best mark in the AL. What's more, Pressly's four-seam fastball has the fifth-highest spin rate in the Majors this year (2,580 rpm) and his curveball has the second-highest spin rate (3,199), according to Statcast™. He also has a hard slider.

Video: HOU@TEX: Pressly fans Beltre for 1st K with Astros

Rondon and Pressly will be huge weapons for the Astros in October, joining a bullpen that includes Chris Devenski, Will Harris, Tony Sipp, Joe Smith, Collin McHugh and Peacock.

Maldonado, 31, is an exceptional defensive catcher who has thrown out 44.6 percent of attempted basestealers this year (second in the Majors) and won the AL Gold Glove last year. According to Statcast™, his 87.6-mph average throws are the best among AL catchers (also second in the Majors).

Video: TEX@HOU: Maldonado starts a rundown to nab Gallo

Considering the Red Sox and Indians rank first and third, respectively, in the AL in stolen base percentage and are potential playoff opponents, Maldonado's ability to control the running game is huge, even if veteran Brian McCann returns from knee surgery.

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, Martin Maldonado, Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly