First things first: Astros focusing on making playoffs, not setting rotation
The Houston Astros would love to qualify for the postseason. Their recent struggles aside, they have a great chance to do just that: Entering play Tuesday Houston has a half-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL Wild Card spot and is a game and a half behind the Texas Rangers for first place in the AL West.
With less than a week remaining on the schedule, Houston is alive in both races – but the Astros don’t have the luxury of working toward setting a rotation for the Wild Card game and beyond.
Rather, their primary goal at the moment is simply to make the postseason.
Manager A.J. Hinch conveyed as much to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle on Monday night, prior to the Astros’ big win over the Seattle Mariners: “The chief priority is to make the playoffs," Hinch told Drellich. "That’s priority one. That’s really the only priority that I have at this point.”
The Wild Card game is set for Tuesday, October 6. As the schedule is currently laid out, ace Dallas Keuchel would either pitch on Friday or Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hinch hasn’t yet figured out which day Keuchel will pitch in Phoenix and which day Collin McHugh will pitch, though that would likely affect who would make the start in the Wild Card game…if the Astros get there.
As Hinch explained, all that matters right now is getting TO the postseason. If and when they qualify, they will then consider pitching options: "He’s our best pitcher,” Hinch said to Drellich regarding Keuchel. “Sometimes they like to go on regular rest, I’ve been reminded of that all summer. We’ll have all hands on deck until Sunday."