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Astros manager announces roster shakeup for ALCS

Rob Bradford
October 12, 2018 - 6:31 pm

While the Red Sox weren't ready to make any announcements regarding their American League Championship Series roster the Astros chose not to wait.

Houston manager A.J. Hinch used his media availability at Fenway Park Friday to relay that there will be two changes from the ALDS roster he used in sweeping the Indians.

The Astros are adding two new pitchers, relievers Hector Rondon and Joe Smith while taking off outfielder Myles Straw and relief pitcher Will Harris. It gives Houston 12 pitchers, one more than it carried in the previous series.

Straw got in two of the three games against Cleveland, not getting an at-bat. Harris pitched one inning, giving up a run.

"It's hard," Hinch said. "You piece together -- I should make my plea for a 26-man roster for the playoffs because he would have been a nice weapon to have. (Straw) and Marisnick are similar. Jake has a ton of history in this ballpark. And certainly, on the defensive side, I could run Tony Kemp as well. So the extra runner versus -- Evan Gattis is a guy on the bench. The extra pitcher, getting through this lineup is really hard. And I want to give -- I guess we want to give myself as much opportunity to mix and match and create some different looks for these hitters that we're about to face. So extra pitcher in a seven-game series. Having a bench of most likely a (Brian) McCann, Gattis, Kemp and Marisnick is a good look."

Rookie righty reliever Josh James made the team over Harris despite having pitched in just six regular season games.

"I think Josh James came in and became a viable weapon. He's got length. He's got a hundred miles in his back pocket. He's got a good breaking ball, a good changeup," Hinch said. "Héctor and Joe, both very valuable relievers, very high-end relievers for us. It's a little bit of just you have to pick the group of guys. And we're going with the guys that we feel best matchups for different looks for different parts of their batting order and not an easy exercise.

"There's a great argument that Will should be on this roster. There's a great argument that Chris Devenski and Brad Peacock should be on this roster, but surprises me to say that I can say those guys are left off a playoff roster but it's the way it is."

The strategy to keep 12 pitchers in the ALCS is one Houston used on its way to the World Series a year ago.

"You know, I think you always add a reliever. That's what you feel like you need to do and answer any questions that you have," Hinch said. "We've had a good bullpen for a couple of years now. And I know last postseason I sat at tables like this and had to defend our bullpen quite a bit because we were moving our starters into the relief side. And I just think you can never have too many pitchers. You can never have too many weapons. You can never address every single part of dynamic lineups like we're about to face.

"So when the guys became available, our front office did a good job of vetting through the options and really like the additions of (Roberto) Osuna and (Ryan) Pressly, specifically. We addressed it in the offseason with Smith and Rondón. We challenged our guys to always find different ways and find different avenues to get guys out. And we wound up with a healthy group of really good performers that we have to choose from when you limit yourself in the postseason. So it's nice to have that and then you sprinkle in a (Lance) McCullers in the back end, it makes it even deeper."