Houston Astros: The final piece (May Edition)

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It’s coming together now. This morning, the Astros announced a surprise move to call up in field (3rd base) prospect Colin Moran from the Fresno Grizzlies. Moran has been on a pretty nice streak in the AAA. He’s currently tied with the most RBIs on the Grizzlies roster and has been a much-talked about prospect rumored to be making a debut this year. Along with this call up is the designation for assignment for Fresno Grizzlies pitcher Asher Wojciechowski, previously on the 40 man roster, as well as assigning Carlos Gomez to the  15 day disabled list for a bruised rib cage.

The injury may be legit, after the hard slide back into 2nd on a base check in Sunday’s game, as well as further aggravation  after being hit by a pitch in the same game. Of course, the injury may be an excuse to give Gomez a much needed break to get himself back on track. His overall performance and regression this year has really put a big question mark on his overall health. The decline at bat can be chalked up to a slump, or even a failure to adjust (which has been an overall team issue, primarily at pitching), or even a decline in health. Add on his loss of speed in max throwing attempts, and you’ve got yourself a real theory.

Loss in throwing speed is symptomatic of injury (prolonged, improper rehabbing, new injury), loss of overall strength, or general wear and tear. This isn’t an issue that just happens because the player has lost his mojo. So, maybe there’s something to the injury. Or maybe a bruised ego is actually a legitimate injury to overcome. If there is a real, prolonged injury that has been affecting his game, I fear 15 days won’t bring him out of it. If he was rushed back too soon after last year’s stints, this will be a prolonged problem that won’t be fixed.

Or perhaps it’s just something new that’s been lingering, with Gomez wanting to work out of it and not cause another knock on his value in a contract year. Either way, we should all hope for an improvement when he comes back in June. What’s good for Gomez is good for the team. Let’s face it – he’s part of this team, a beloved part of the team, from the player’s perspective. What other outfielders would come together and do the dab after every win if they didn’t hold their fellow teammate in high regard? No team would do that. So, for a third time, get over it. He’s still going to be a part of the team in the short term.

Moran, though, brings some needed relief to the infield. Gonzalez has been run ragged, and this move opens up more options for Valbuena to cover other infield positions to give a rest in the interim. Kemp adds to that additionally, as well as OF relief, and both players called up are expected to improve the team BA. It’s a try out, with more moves expected later on in the year. AJ Reed is still expected to make his MLB debut in 2016, along with Joe Musgrove, RHP just recently making his debut in the AAA with the Fresno Grizzlies, and it’s possible that Alex Bregman will come up in the near future as well.

The bright spot in this season will be a lot of young talent coming up to fight for a spot on the team. This will be as exciting to watch as it is frustrating, as it may tell the tale of another season spent in a rebuilding phase. The Astros will soon find out if this is the case, with 3 tough series coming up in May. The first with the Chicago White Sox, 1st place in the AL Central, starts tonight. Right after, there’s another tough series with the Texas Rangers, and then following that, with a single day’s rest in between, another match up with a 1st place team in the AL East, the Baltimore Orioles.

That’s 9 games that may very well tell the story of this season. That’s a stretch that the Astros desperately need a winning record against (especially when it comes to the league contending Rangers). These next 3 are almost must-win series if the Astros want to keep the hope of a playoff run alive. If they don’t come out with an overall win for this stretch, that doesn’t mean it’s over, but it does begin to make a playoff push border on insurmountable. The new team members will slowly be added into this mix, so we’re really looking at a grand experiment in a vital stretch of the season. Let’s hope it works well.

With Gomez being listed on the DL, I would expect Kemp to start making it into the OF rotation relatively soon. Neither new addition are expected to start tonight, because tonight is the start of a tough series. No need to be throwing the young to the wolves. However, both new additions will be added into the rotation in a tough stint, so their test will come soon and it will be abrupt. Hopefully the roster additions will breath some immediate life in this stagnating club, and hopefully we’ll see it tonight on the field. Overall the additions should spark that new life, and that new life couldn’t come at a better time.

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