Astros rookie Myles Straw will arrive bright and early Friday morning at Minute Maid Park, prepared to study the pickoff moves of pitchers he may face as a backup outfielder and designated pinch runner.
Straw, who had 70 stolen bases for two Astros minor league teams this season, joined the big league roster in mid-September and had four hits with a homer, four runs scored and two stolen bases in 10 plate appearances. His addition ensured that the Astros will go without a third catcher, Max Stassi, on the Division Series roster.
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“I’ll be here in the morning, first thing, going to the computer and looking at pickoff times and what they (Indians pitchers and catchers) look to do,” Straw said.
“It’s more than being fast. You have to study the pitchers, their moves, their holds. With any catcher in the big leagues, if you don’t get a good jump, you’re getting thrown out.”
Straw’s speed provides a range of fast-twitch options for manager A.J. Hinch.
“He is so fast he forced the third catcher off the roster, and that gives us a lot of weapons,” Hinch said. “It allows me to utilize Jake Marisnick in a different way. It allows me to save Tony Kemp’s at-bat. I don’t have to spend that as a base runner. He’s a potential upgrade for every player on our offense.
“I won’t run for (Jose) Altuve. I likely won’t run for (Alex) Bregman or (George) Springer, but he’s probably faster, and that type of weapon in these type of games can pay huge.”
Stassi, who hit .226 with eight homers in 88 games this season, was philosophical about his exclusion from the playoff roster.
“It’s tough, but the team we have and the team we have out there is unbelievable,” he said. “I’m doing whatever’s best for the team. I’m going to be their biggest supporter out there. We’ve got an unbelievable roster, and I think the roster could take us all the way.”