Astros announce 25-man roster for ALDS

Rookie James gets nod; Rondon, Devenski, Peacock left off

October 4th, 2018
Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch smiles during a baseball news conference Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, in Houston. The Astros play the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Friday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)David J. Phillip/AP

HOUSTON -- There were a couple of surprises when Astros manager AJ Hinch unveiled his American League Division Series roster on Thursday afternoon. Game 1 against the Indians is set for 1:05 p.m. CT Friday at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros are carrying 14 position players and 11 pitchers, as expected, but opted to go with hard-throwing rookie Josh James in the bullpen. Among those not on the ALDS roster are veteran relievers Joe Smith and , who were both signed in December, and 2017 bullpen stalwarts and Brad Peacock.
"By far, one of the most difficult decisions -- and really I say them as a group because there's some really, really good relievers that pitch well for us that carried the bullpen at certain times," Hinch said. "With Hector, he had a tough month. September was really his only bad month. He wasn't great in the second half as a whole, but most of that is weighted into September. Honestly, this is a very difficult offense to match up with, and some of the things that he does and some of his execution that he does didn't match up very well with very many areas of the lineup with the Indians."
Hinch also opted to go with speedy outfielder instead of carrying a third catcher, which would have been . Straw has appeared in only nine big leagues games, but has the kind of elite speed that will allow him to pinch-run for almost anyone on the roster.
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"We feel like Straw can be a huge impact on the bases, or even if I put him in defensively, maybe he gets an at-bat," Hinch said. "He is so fast he forced the third catcher off the roster, and that gives us a lot of weapons. It allows me to utilize in a different way. It allows me to save 's at-bat. I don't have to spend that as a baserunner. He's a potential upgrade for every player on our offense [as a runner]."
If the Astros advance, they can change their roster prior to the AL Championship Series.
Starting pitchers
(16-9, 2.52 ERA) will start Game 1 at 1:05 p.m. CT Friday at Minute Maid Park and lines up to pitch a possible Game 5. (15-5, 2.88 ERA) will start Saturday's 3:37 p.m. CT Game 2, and former Cy Young winner (12-11, 3.74 ERA) will start Game 3 on Monday in Cleveland. Charlie Morton (15-3, 3.13 ERA) will start Game 4 on Tuesday in Cleveland.
Relief pitchers
Five of the seven relief pitchers weren't on the Astros' ALDS roster last year, including newcomers (12-for-12 in save chances in Houston) and (0.77 ERA with Houston), who were acquired in trades in July. , who was left off the playoff roster last year, is the only lefty in the bullpen. Former starters and are in the bullpen, along with former All-Star Will Harris. Perhaps the biggest surprise is James, who has pitched in only six big league games.

The Astros' infield is as stable as it gets with Yuli Gurriel at first base, at second base, at shortstop, at third base and versatile infielder/outfielder , who could get most of the starts in left field like he did last year. Correa hit .180 in 133 at-bats after coming off the disabled list with a back ailment on Aug. 10, so there remains some uncertainly about his health heading into the ALDS.
, the 2017 World Series MVP, will be joined by veteran , Marisnick and Kemp. Marisnick was injured during the playoffs last year, and Kemp is making his first postseason roster. Straw has nine career big league at-bats but is on the roster because of his speed and pinch-running abilities.

Designated hitters
, who can play first base and third base, figures to get most of the at-bats at designated hitter over Evan Gattis. White had an .888 OPS in 66 games with the Astros this year and hit all of his 12 homers and his 42 RBIs in the final 47 games of the season. Gattis' raw power (25 homers in 407 at-bats) makes him dangerous if he gets hot.
The Astros carried three catchers in all three postseason rounds last year, including Gattis, who won't catch this year. , acquired in a July trade, has perhaps the best arm of any catcher in the game and should help neutralize Cleveland's running game. caught all but one-half inning of the Astros' World Series run last year, but expect Maldonado to get most of the starts in October.
Here is the Astros ALDS roster:
Justin Verlander
Gerrit Cole
Dallas Keuchel
Charlie Morton
Roberto Osuna
Ryan Pressly
Tony Sipp
Josh James
Lance McCullers Jr.
Collin McHugh
Will Harris
Brian McCann
Martin Maldonado
Jose Altuve
Alex Bregman
Carlos Correa
Yuli Gurriel
Marwin Gonzalez
George Springer
Josh Reddick
Jake Marisnick
Tony Kemp
Myles Straw
Evan Gattis
Tyler White