Last week I was given the opportunity to interview one of the rising icons in the Houston media, Maanav Gupta. Maanav is most well-known for his YouTube channel, Maanav’s Sports Talk, where he’s interviewed some of Houston’s best athletes, such as J.J Watt and Jose Altuve.
I spoke with Maanav and asked him some questions regarding the current state of the Astros; here are his responses.
Q: The Astros currently hold their franchise-best record at 126 games this season with an 81-45 record. How well do you see this team doing going into the postseason?
A: “I see the Astros once again going deep into the postseason and reaching the World Series. I have high expectations for this team, and they should be able to get through the AL. There will be challenges by teams like the Blue Jays and Yankees, but I believe this team is much more balanced and has more postseason experience to get it done. It will be a tough challenge trying to win it all with the Dodgers in the way, but if their pitching continues to perform well, and the Astros hitters are able to get those timely hits, they can definitely win it all.”
Q: The Astros have lots of young talent in the majors, most notably relief pitcher Hunter Brown. Do you think Brown gets the call-up before the season ends?
A: “Hunter Brown is arguably the biggest young talent the Astros have, and he will be a huge part of the future Astros. Now with the potential for JV to be injured, we might see an earlier call-up. Either way, I’m sure he will be great. Now, if JV didn’t get hurt, not sure he would be called up, but I know I definitely won’t rule it out. He could definitely help out the bullpen that’s had some issues lately.”
Q: The Astros made some noise at the trade deadline by adding Will Smith, Trey Mancini, and Christian Vasquez. What are your thoughts on these moves, and do you think the Astros could’ve done more?
A: “The Astros made great moves at the deadline, starting with Mancini, who has been great since he came to Houston, enjoying the Crawford Boxes. He’s already hit six homers, very helpful in terms of depth and power, should be getting more starts at 1st, and can help more in the field, in my opinion. Vasquez was also a great move to pair up with Maldonado and as a potential pinch hitter… loved that move. I’m okay with the Will Smith move because Odorizzi just wasn’t working out. Will Smith has struggled a bit, but he’s had some decent outings for the pen, and hope he gets back some October magic. The Astros should have done more in terms of center field, not sure who exactly would be the best fit, but the problem was not addressing it at all.”
Q: What would be your ideal pitching rotation going into the postseason?
A: “My playoff rotation would be (assuming JV is okay and everyone stays healthy): Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Urquidy. These are the best four pitchers suited for the postseason, in my opinion. Urquidy’s experience and success in the postseason is a big factor for him being a starter, same with Lance and JV. Framber has been a sneaky Cy Young candidate this season, overshadowed by JV, but expect him to improve this postseason. Javier will stay in the bullpen, and Luis Garcia should join him, as Luis is very effective 1st time through the lineup.”
Q: What has surprised you the most this season for the Astros?
A: “There have been a couple of things that have surprised me, definitely the pitching and how good it’s been (2nd best starter ERA in MLB). Seeing Framber this good, and JV pitching this well after TJ surgery with a Cy Young season, also how the bullpen was the best in baseball after losing Graveman. Also have been surprised about how this offense has not been as consistent this year. One of the most prolific offenses last season hasn’t looked as consistent this year, but I can see the talent and performances, and I think they will only get better with the brighter lights. This team can win it all as long as they are healthy.”
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