The Houston Astros have officially handed the closer duties to Roberto Osuna. Will his presence exude a negative impact on the team? Let’s dive into it.
The Houston Astros have gone 12-15 since the All-Star Break and have lost eight of their last 11 games. With this skid being more prominent than ever, the Houston Astros have lost the leadership in the AL West with the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners being the uber-competitors in the division.
With a 76-50 overall record, the Houston Astros are now in a dead-heat with the A’s for the division title. With just a little over a month to go before the end of the season, playoff positioning will mean everything, especially with as well as the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have been holding things together as of late.
Those aforementioned teams will be the likely opponents that this team will face early in the postseason, whatever path that may be with the Wild Card or starting out with the ALDS. I certainly hope the latter is the case with this team.
But as this team continues to slide, can we purely blame things on the injuries? We all can make a strong case for that — Jose Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa have missed a smorgasbord of games for the various ailments and with those being some of the most-talented bats in the lineup, that can have an effect.
But what about the morale of the team? I would like to think it’s high but with the team deciding to bring in Roberto Osuna as the closer, this may have ruffled feathers with many of the teammates. With a clubhouse that was in such a tizzy of harmony throughout their World Series run as well as leading up to the trade for the 23-year-old from the Toronto Blue Jays, one has to admit there may be notable level of awkwardness in the clubhouse.
We all know about Osuna’s domestic violence charge that’s still pending in court up in Toronto and whether you believe his “not guility” plea certainly depends on your perspective but the fact that the Houston Astros made to move to sign him — even with the alleged allegations — has infuriated teammates such as Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers, Jr., who weren’t so shy about letting feelings be known to the public.
Although I personally don’t condone any type of domestic violence whatsoever, this was an important move that the team had to make to secure the best talent possible to close out our games. Ken Giles was terrible in high-pressure situations and we all know this. But there will be price to pay in terms of the morality of such a decision. There’s no doubt this signing has had some effect — no matter how little — on the mindset of this team.
I’m positive there are players who are thinking in the back of their minds that if bringing Osuna
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into the fold would fulfill a somewhat taboo notion of winning at all costs. But obviously, the Houston Astros carefully vetted their decision way in advance before we all knew and were ready to handle a potential firestorm if need be.
Through 6.0 innings pitched, Osuna has posted a 3.00 ERA with six strikeouts, allowing two earned runs, a 1.50 WHIP and 9.0 K/9. These numbers are certainly far his best thus but he’s still working his way in, getting looser after being suspended for 75 games. A.J. Hinch has experimented with him in the setup role as well as the closer and it appears he’s best suited to be right where he’s the best of fits — as a closer.
In the last home game I attended against the Mariners Aug. 11, when Osuna stepped into the game, I didn’t hear much in the barrage of boos. To be honest, we don’t really know all of the specifics of what allegedly happened in this case. With it being in Canada, it’s a bit more difficult to unlock what has been sealed up to the public. There is no Freedom of Information Act as we have here in the States and although information can be requested about it, it’s not as easy as you think.
So it’s hard to make assumptions about something we know little about. The public knows about the suspension and the pending court case but that’s about it.
So will Osuna have an effect on the team’s efforts to give all they have on the field? I’d imagine not but there are some players that are in their feelings about this. But the overall picture certainly indicates that the Houston Astros will weather the storm of losing all of these games and get right back on track, despite the competition being right at their heels.
We’ll have to see but please keep an eye on the nuances as we edge closer to the close of the season.