September is just over a week away, and it brings many questions with it for every team in MLB. For the Houston Astros, September will be the month that will define where the team is at in their rebuilding process. There are two scenarios for the Astros that could play out, each with completely different outcomes. With a team in the midst of rebuilding, either outcome could be seen as positive for a team looking for good news.
Through two-thirds of their games in August, the Astros have been playing .500 baseball. They have been hitting better as a collective unit which is keeping them in games. Unlike the majority of the season, the Astros are competing as of late and, depending on how September plays out, they could finish the season on a high note moving into their next offseason. Of course, if the last month of the season plays out like last year, the Astros could still be setting themselves up for a very big offseason.
If the Astros finish September with a winning record, there should be praise for an organization that has been used as the punchline over the past few seasons among baseball’s fans. The media-given black eyes of unloading expensive contracts by trading them for prospects, not making a serious attempt at adding solid veterans in free agency, finishing last for the past three seasons in a row and not signing last year’s No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken because of a potential injury concern have kept the team in a negative outlook to the general fans of the sport. In the meantime during all of the criticism, with players like George Springer, Mike Foltynewicz and Jon Singleton, the Astros have built one of the deepest farm systems in all of baseball that is starting, and will continue, to produce talent-heavy players for the current roster. With the transition to a young team filled with homegrown talent currently underway, finishing the final month of the season with more wins than losses will give the team and the front office a good idea of how close they are to their goal of competing for a spot in the playoffs consistently.
If the Astros finish September in a similar fashion as last year by going 7-20, they risk finishing with the worst record for the fourth straight season. They currently sit at 54-74, which is fourth from the bottom. Including the last nine games in August, the Astros play 24 more games against teams with a winning record. Many of those games are against teams in the American League West division, where the Astros have struggled to the tune of 22-30.
If the Astros fall apart over last month of the season, it may look bad at first glance, but there is a silver lining. With the Astros not coming to an agreement for Aiken, the team will get the No. overall pick in next year’s draft, barring any precedence set by MLB. If they finish poorly enough, they could wind up with two picks inside the top five, maybe even the Nos. 1 and 2 overall picks. With the talent at the top of next year’s draft, including high school outfielder Dazmon Cameron, the Astros having two of the first five picks could be the last piece to the puzzle in their rebuilding process before they get serious about spending money to compete.
There are two paths for the Astros to take with the last month of the season almost upon us. Although it may not seem like it, either of them could be extremely beneficial for the organization. With the team on the verge of turning their bad fortune around, the Astros are almost to the end of their committed rebuilding process. Win or lose in September, the Astros will be in a position to spend significantly more money in the offseason to fill voids on their current roster based on the young game-changers they have surfacing in their farm system.