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Houston Astros’ biggest needs ahead of MLB trade deadline

OAKLAND, Calif. — On July 26, 2021, Dylan Moore delivered a moment that forced action. His grand slam against Brooks Raley completed a six-run comeback by the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park and laid bare what many already knew: The Astros had a bad bullpen. General manager James Click acquired Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero the next afternoon. Two other additions followed. Houston’s biggest weakness became one of its October strengths.

A year and a day later, Houston finished the sort of series that heightens urgency. No watershed moment like Moore’s occurred during three dreadful days in Oakland, but perhaps it would have been better that way. Instead, Click and his lieutenants sat through 27 infuriating, endless innings against a team built to lose.

The A’s three-game sweep of the Astros left Click six days to determine his course of action at the trade deadline. Never have Houston’s shortcomings felt so apparent. The series exposed two areas Click must address before Aug. 2: his catching depth and a gaping hole in his batting order.

Much of the discourse after Wednesday’s 4-2 loss surrounded resting players. Alex Bregman and Jeremy Peña did not play Wednesday. Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel sat out Tuesday (although both pinch-hit), a day after Kyle Tucker received a respite. Michael Brantley missed all three games while still nursing a shoulder support.

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