If you were disappointed by the Houston Astros’ lack of activity at the MLB Trade Deadline, pitcher Dallas Keuchel is right there with you. The Astros did add Francisco Liriano, who will bolster the team’s bullpen. But a top starting pitcher would have made Houston much more formidable in the postseason.
Lance McCullers went on the 10-day disabled list Monday with a back issue and Keuchel just returned from the DL after recovering from a neck injury. Additionally, Houston’s bullpen depth is being tested with Tony Sipp and Michael Feliz joining Will Harris on the DL. Liriano will help the relief corps, but that starting rotation could have used some reinforcement too.
Sure, the Astros have a 16-game lead in the AL West and an 11.5-game margin for home field in the AL postseason. The team can probably ride out these injuries while maintaining those leads. But what about the postseason, especially if Keuchel and McCullers continue to battle injuries? A Yu Darvish, Sonny Gray or Justin Verlander would have made a significant difference for the Astros’ staff, and the organization has the prospects to pull off such a deal. Keuchel agrees with those sentiments, as he expressed to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart:
When asked about Trade Deadline, Keuchel said: "I'm not going to lie. Disappointment is a little bit of an understatement." pic.twitter.com/hUgk3M45jg
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) August 1, 2017
“I feel like a bunch of teams really bolstered their rosters for the long haul, a big playoff push,” Keuchel said. “Us kind of just staying pat was really disappointing to myself. I know a lot of the guys feel like we can win in here. That’s a pretty accurate statement, and that’s why we’ve built such a great lead. I think when it comes down to it, now it’s gonna be we win for each other and that’s it.”
Keuchel was asked if the thought the current team was good enough to win the World Series, to which he said he thought the team was good enough to get there. Doesn’t the front office deserve a little bit of credit for putting this team together?
But making midseason trades isn’t necessarily just about adding talent to a World Series contender. It’s also about providing a psychological boost for a team after playing 100 games. It’s about management telling a clubhouse that the front office and ownership believe a team can win and wants to take care of any potential weaknesses. Obviously, Keuchel and his teammates were looking for that kind of pat on the back, especially when seeing AL rivals like the New York Yankees drastically improve themselves at the trade deadline.
As Keuchel said, this is something the clubhouse could rally around. And if they go into a funk because of trade deadline disappointment, that would reflect poorly on the team’s mental toughness and attitude. Manager A.J. Hinch might need to prepare some pep talks in the days and weeks to come.