For the first half of the year, it was the pitching staff.
Now it’s the hitters’ turn.
The Astros roster has taken a hit lately, as a rash of ill-timed injuries has felled a number of key cogs in the Houston offense. The onslaught started last week, when 22-year-old shortstop wunderkind Carlos Correa ripped through a ligament in his left thumb while taking a mighty swing. Correa’s expected to miss six to eight weeks. It’s a tough blow, but we wrote at the time that the Astros were well-positioned to cover their star’s extended absence.
That depth now faces a stiff test. Days after Correa’s injury, the Astros lost prospect Colin Moran, who was called up to help eat some innings in the infield. Moran suffered a grisly facial fracture when he fouled an inside pitch off of his own cheekbone. Though Moran is expected to make a full recovery, there’s no current timetable for the talented youngster’s return.
George Springer was the next casualty – he caught his spike in the outfield grass fielding a fly ball on Monday night. Springer exited with quad tightness, and the Astros recalled prospect Derek Fisher from AAA Fresno. Springer could be back as soon as Friday night, but the Astros are loathe to lose their leadoff man and spark plug for any period of time.
Then there’s Alex Bregman (crucially, another infielder), who’s listed as day-to-day after feeling his hamstring tighten up while running the bases on Tuesday. The youthful third baseman had been on a tear, batting .338 for the month of July. His shouldn’t be an extended absence, but the ‘Stros will miss his bat all the same. Hulking first baseman Tyler White joined the big league club from the minor leagues the day after Bregman’s exit, allowing Yuli Gurriel to cross the diamond and man the hot corner.
The string of bad luck forced manager AJ Hinch to use some creativity in designing his lineup on Wednesday night. But through it all, the Astros have kept on winning. Houston has won four of its last five, and is playing for a three-game sweep of Philadelphia tonight.
One big reason why the Astros have been able to sustain so many injuries? 5’6” second baseman Jose Altuve. The MVP favorite is riding a career-high 18-game hitting streak, and is batting a raucous .494 this month.
Keuchel Comes Back
A familiar face is returning to Houston’s rotation on Friday. To the delight of Astros fans everywhere, that face will be obscured by a signature bushy beard. Dallas Keuchel is set to make his first start since June 2 when the Astros go head-to-head with the Detroit Tigers in Michigan. In 11 starts this year, Keuchel has pitched to a brilliant 9-0 record with a 1.67 ERA.
On The Farm
MLB.com unveiled its updated list of the top 100 prospects in baseball this week. Five future Astros made the list, with AA outfielder Kyle Tucker leading the way as the number 10 overall talent in the minor leagues. Also of note? 2017 draft pick JB Bukauskas, who checked in at number 87.