'Stros may counter Yanks with extra righties

October 11th, 2019

HOUSTON -- Astros manager AJ Hinch said his club will carry an extra pitcher for the American League Championship Series, which means right-hander will probably be added to the roster. That could come at the expense of outfielder , but that’s not the only change Hinch could be making for the best-of-seven series against the Yankees.

The Astros carried 14 position players and 11 pitchers for the AL Division Series against the Rays, but they will cut down to 13 position players and have 12 pitchers for the ALCS, which begins Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

The roster will be announced at 10 a.m. CT Saturday.

“I'm expecting to carry an extra pitcher that we didn't carry in the last series,” Hinch said. “I said that last time, but we haven't made any decisions yet. It's been a quick turnaround for us.”

Because the Yankees have so many dangerous right-handed bats, the Astros may also choose to remove left-handed pitcher , who was on the ALDS roster, and add a right-handed arm. That could be hard-throwing rookie , whose swing-and-miss stuff could play well against the Yankees.

“They do have a lot of righties, and I think that’s going to force us to think through the roster and who we’re carrying because it’s a little different than teams we’ve been facing,” Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “But they’re really good, and they hit the ball a really long way. We’re going to have to pitch them well.”

Peacock, who was in the rotation to start the year before battling a shoulder injury, held right-handers to a .553 OPS this year and could pitch beyond an inning. Peacock has playoff experience, too, having appeared in seven games in the postseason in 2017, with a save in Game 3 of the World Series against the Dodgers.

Abreu, who spent the first half of the season at Double-A Corpus Christi, struck out 13 batters in 8 2/3 innings over seven games with Houston and could be a weapon in certain matchups. Abreu brings a sharp curveball with spin and a sweeping slider, as well as a mid-90s four-seam fastball. Also a plus? The Yankees have never seen him.

The Yankees, of course, bashed 306 home runs this season behind Edwin Encarnacion, Gary Sanchez, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge.

“They’ve got some amazing hitters,” Luhnow said. “I think our starters and relievers are capable of keeping them down to three or four runs a game, and if we do that, we can win.”

The additions of Peacock and Abreu would give the Astros an entirely right-handed bullpen, with those two plus , , , , and . Of the Yankees' regulars, only shortstop Didi Gregorius and outfielder Brett Gardner hit left-handed. Right-hander José Urquidy, a candidate to start Game 4, would also be in the bullpen to start the series.

If the Astros add Peacock and Abreu and remove Miley, they would also have to remove another position player who was on the ALDS roster. The only position player who didn’t play in any of the five games of the ALDS was Straw, who was carried because of his tremendous speed. At this point, having extra firepower against the Yankees' lineup is more valuable.