Perhaps the Astros have weathered the worst of the storm. After winning 11 games in a row, Houston lost six of its next eight games before righting the ship with a 13-2 shellacking of Texas on Wednesday.While the offense appears to be back on track -- with a little help
Perhaps the Astros have weathered the worst of the storm. After winning 11 games in a row, Houston lost six of its next eight games before righting the ship with a 13-2 shellacking of Texas on Wednesday.
While the offense appears to be back on track -- with a little help from newcomer Derek Fisher -- injuries to starting pitchers Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Joe Musgrove are putting a strain on the rotation and the bullpen.
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With the Red Sox set to come to Houston this weekend, let's open the Inbox and see what's on the minds of the fans:
If Fisher doesn't get sent back down to Triple-A, who will? Do you think the Astros might go with one less arm at this point? Norichika Aoki is hitting .273. I don't think he's getting DFA'd. We obviously know that Jake Marisnick isn't going anywhere. My feeling is that Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow works out a trade before we have to make a move. What do you think?
-- Gabriel V., Houston
It will be really interesting when outfielder Josh Reddick returns from the seven-day disabled list to see if Fisher or Aoki stays with the team. Aoki has been the Astros' worst offensive player this year, and Fisher has tools at the plate. We saw that Wednesday when he homered, singled and walked twice in his Major League debut.
If Fisher continues to impress, I think it would be hard for the Astros to send him back down in favor of Aoki. Right now, Fisher appears to be a better, younger and more athletic option than Aoki. Money will factor into the decision -- Aoki is making $5.5 million this year -- but Fisher can help Houston … or be used in a trade for pitching.
Which players on the Major League roster are most likely to be wearing a different uniform on Aug. 1?
-- James S., Bay City, Texas
I don't see the Astros trading away any core players currently on the big league roster if they make a trade in the next two months. They're certainly not going to tinker with the offense -- short of Fisher perhaps replacing Aoki -- and they need to acquire more pitching, not trade it away like they did last year, when they sent Scott Feldman to the Blue Jays at the Deadline.
And if Houston is going to acquire pitching, it's going to take prospects. You might be willing to trade Francis Martes or David Paulino, but it's going to take some of its better Minor League prospects to land a veteran starting pitcher.
Once everyone is healthy, do you think there is a chance we can see Brad Peacock take over Luke Gregerson's role?
-- Brian W., Houston
Gregerson, who has a 5.28 ERA in 16 appearances since May 1, is more likely to mostly remain a one-inning reliever, while Peacock would likely be a multiple-inning reliever if he returns to the bullpen. Outside of Chris Devenski, Will Harris and usually Ken Giles, manager A.J. Hinch doesn't have many reliable arms at this point in the bullpen. Gregerson has the track record and experience, so I suspect Hinch will trust he will work through his issues.
If Martes and Fisher are up at the MLB level and do well, should the Astros include them in a deal for another starter?
-- Sean W., Houston
It's possible. If they want a front-line starter, it's going to hurt in terms of prospects, and Martes and Fisher are two of the top ones. If they both get off to a good start over the next month, that will only drive up their trade value. Don't get me wrong. The Astros are trying to win games first and foremost, but they need another starting pitcher and a reliever. Martes or Fisher or top position player prospect Kyle Tucker will likely have to be included in any deals.
Which Draft pick intrigues you the most?
-- Evan K., Houston
It has to be Jake Adams, right? The slugger from Iowa led the NCAA Division I in home runs this season with 29, and apparently the power is real. He's going to have to become a more complete hitter as he progresses through the big leagues, but for young players, power often comes later as they develop. Adams already has the power. If he can hit to all fields and not strike out, he could be headed to Crush City sooner rather than later.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.