Championship or Bust? Not for the Houston Astros

BRONX, NY - OCTOBER 15: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros pitches during Game 3 of the ALCS between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
BRONX, NY - OCTOBER 15: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros pitches during Game 3 of the ALCS between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

For many organizations, it’s World Series or bust. The same can’t be said for the Houston Astros. Here’s why.

For the Houston Astros, It’s all about Gerrit Cole.

Or at least it seems that way.

Every game you watch every article you open he and free agency are inexplicably linked in the same sentence. And it’s all completely warranted.

More from Call to the Pen

After all how can we not talk about a guy who is the likely Cy Young Winner and is currently helping fuel the Astros’ shot at a second championship in three years?

But the keyword there is “helping.”

Cole is a big part of this run, there’s no denying that. But not only is he the sole reason, he’s not even the sole star in his own rotation.

Of course there is Justin Verlander (who will likely finish second in the Cy Young voting) who has also been talked about all season. There’s also Zack Greinke who despite postseason struggles thus far is still very much a star, he did just post 2.93 ERA after all.

Any rotation would look great with those two fronting, but then you remember that the Astros will also be getting Lance McCullers Jr. back in 2020 too, the guy who was an All-Star in 2017 poster a 3.86 ERA before dealing with and while pitching through elbow issues which would lead to Tommy John srugery. He’s also just 26-years-old.

Oh wait, and there’s more. We know Houston has an incredible knack for claiming pitchers from the broken toys bin and turning them into serviceable pitchers or even All-Stars or even Cy Young contenders (see: Verlander, Cole, Charlie Morton and Wade Miley.)

And it appears that the Astros tabbed their next reclamation project when they acquired Aaron Sanchez from the Toronto Blue Jays in July. Sanchez has had a tough past few seasons, with an ERA over 4.00 each of the last three and a massive 5.89 ERA in 2019.

But it wasn’t that long ago that Sanchez led the American League with a 3.00 ERA and was an All-Star.

The Astros clearly believe there is still something in Sanchez that they can use, and the turnaround had started already before going down to shoulder surgery, Sanchez allowed just seven runs in three starts before his fourth and final start that saw him only make it into the third inning.

So obviously Sanchez will be an All-Star next year.

Let’s even take the pitching out of it. If the Astros lose Cole (and that’s still an if) they still have a monstrous offense.

It starts with the guy who is your likely American League MVP, Alex Bregman. The Astros third baseman set a career high in homers (41) RBI (112) walks (119 which led the majors) and OPS (1.015) so yeah he’s pretty good.

Oh wait but the Astros already have an MVP in their lineup! 2017 winner Jose Altuve! Almost forgot about the guy that hit a walk off homer to send the Astros to this year’s World Series. Oh he also set a new career high in homers with 31 despite playing just 124 games in 2019.

You know where this is going.

Yep, we haven’t even talked about Carlos Correa or George Springer. We haven’t even talked about rookie sensation Yordan Alvarez, who slashed .313/.412/.655 and hit 27 home runs in just 87 games.

Next. Astros and Nationals: How they stack up. dark

So yes, the Houston Astros may lose Gerrit Cole (again, still an if) but safe to say they would still have plenty of talent. The fate of the organization doesn’t hinge on him and thus doesn’t hinge on winning a championship in 2019, because odds are they’ll still have a few more opportunities in the future.