Astros 2019: The path forward from injuries


The Astros’ roster situation is going to be in deep focus over the next month and a half as the injured return. There are quite a few decisions to be made.

The Astros began the 2019 season in fair health, except for those folks on the long term IL (Lance McCullers Jr. Francis Martes and Joe Smith). Then the last few weeks of May a collection of mostly All-Stars started falling like Tyler White‘s chances of retaining his DH role long term. Looking ahead the following players are likely to return in the next 6 weeks or so. (The Likely Return is based on the best guesses out there in the blogosphere).

Name Injury Likely Return
Jose Altuve Leg Mid to Late June
George Springer Hamstring Late June
Aledmys Diaz Hamstring Mid to late June
Carlos Correa Rib Early to Mid July
Max Stassi Knee Mid to Late June
Collin McHugh Elbow No timetable
Joe Smith Achilles Late June

The players who have come up and done their best in place of the six, who went down in May, include C Garrett Stubbs, IF Jack Mayfield, OFs Myles Straw and Derek Fisher, and Ps Corbin Martin and Brady Rodgers.

Barring trades, the seven injured players are assured of having a roster spot when well, except…..Max Stassi, who has been very ineffective in the back-up catcher’s spot.

Along with the replacement players that were called up, there are other players who may be in danger of losing their spot in lieu of a replacement. That would include Ps Framber Valdez and Chris Devenski, IF Tyler White and OF/IF Tony Kemp.

The biggest wrench in the works. Of the players listed, Stassi, White and Kemp are out of options. Therefore, if any of them are no longer considered Ready for Prime Time Players, they would have to be DFA’d (Designated for Assignment), which means the other teams in the league would have a shot at picking them up for free. While the Astros used the DFA fairly freely back in the time of Matt Duffy, Carlos Pena, Ronny Cedeno and Joe Thatcher, it is a path they have avoided lately with players they believe have some value. If these players are not picked up by other teams, the Astros would then either release them, trade them or send them to the minors. So there is a risk of losing talent in exchange for nothing for each of them.

A Good Guess at the Path Forward

  • All seven of the injured players listed will be put on the roster as they are available, even Stassi would seem likely to return as the team seems to lean towards having veterans behind the plate and would more likely replace him with a veteran from the outside later in the season (see – Maldonado, Martin).
  • Who goes down in the place of the seven? Well, that gets a little dicey and certainly could be affected by further injuries and of course, if someone (Straw? Fisher?) forces themselves to be considered to stay.  Most likely it would include Mayfield, Stubbs, and Rodgers. If Martin does not turn it around he would be the 4th, but if he did turn it around the 4th could well be Devenski who has options and has not been pitching very well.
  • Anyway you look at it, if the Astros stay with a 13 man pitching staff, the Astros would have to unload (or send down) 3 of the following 4 players – Tyler White, Tony Kemp, Derek Fisher and Myles Straw. (Remember that when Jose Altuve went on the IL, he was replaced by Corbin Martin, not a position player as the team shifted from a 12 man to a 13 man pitching staff). This would mean that at least one of White or Kemp would have to be exposed to the rest of the league and that would be tough for this front office to swallow. If they went to a 12 man staff (not likely) Valdez would be heading down.
  • The gut feeling is that with the seven on the injured list, someone will have a regression or extension of their term on the IL. If it is Smith or McHugh that does not help with the White / Kemp conundrum. Of course, someone else on the roster could easily go on the IL closer to the decision time to kick that ball down the block. Right now, the best guess is that White is in the most danger here and whether deserving or not Fisher and Straw would also head down.
  • However……if say Straw continues to be a force both in the field and on the base paths, the Astros might see if they can send Tony Kemp on a trade for a very low-level prospect.

It appears that White is in trouble no matter what if the 13-man pitching staff is kept in place. Of course, he could develop a very painful pulled stomach muscle from some of his food sessions and be placed on the IL until the September call-up time……. Jeff Luhnow will earn his salary, again this season, with roster manipulation as he has the good problem of too many players he wants to keep.

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66 comments on “Astros 2019: The path forward from injuries

  1. Max Stassi- I believe Stassi would be allowed to stay as long as possible on the IL to give Stubbs some opportunity to learn our pitchers. I think Stassi will go on a rehab assignment to help him find his bat. Then I think stassi will rejoin the club and Stubbs will head back down to finish the year in AAA and then rejoin the club in September. All of this is moot if Stassi is hurt worse than reported or if Chirinos suffers an injury.

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  2. Jeff Luhnow says they weren’t anticipating getting a catcher, so Korey Lee looks like a bonus all around. Dan, it’s not your fault you have to talk about trading Kemp, but that guy has surely poured his heart into this team and to send him packing would be a pain. I’m guessing he’d be really hurt.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jose Altuve and Aledmys Diaz. I think the Astros would like to have one or both of those guys back by the 20th of June when they go to NY to face the Yankees 4 times.
    The first one to be ready sends Mayfield back to AAA. The second one to be ready, really puts White in jeopardy, because there is a RH bat added back to the bench, and White is not currently a RH bat.

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    • rrj, thank you. Much over my head, of course. But stuff like Edgertronic cameras filming players with logo covered up by tape, but other teams noticing. Mejdal’s draft methods, with other teams catching on: “I was naïve. I thought our advantage would last several years.” Now with Mejdal gone elsewhere, or at least I think he moved on, that’s what I wonder. How long can you stay ahead of the curve, no pun? What an information age business. They even improved Verlander. “What they’re good at, is telling you what you’re good at,” he says. From this, just guessing there’s a bit more to it than that.

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    • Wow! What an amazing and informative article.
      If you want to know the thinking behind drafting Lee and Kessinger, read this long article. The Astros see talent there and also see areas where they think they can make improvements to these two players.
      High tech video and analysis is the Astros way.

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    • Yes – terrific article. It shows the Astros as a team that is on the cutting edge and continuing to push that edge father out there.
      I also like how they talk about learning from their failures like JD Martinez and Mark Appel.
      This reminded me of the book I reviewed in an old post “Astroball” – lots of interesting views.
      https://chipalatta.com/2018/12/21/book-review-astroball/

      Diane – yes Mejdal is gone to Baltimore with Mike Elias – another team that needs to fail and then flourish.

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      • And also this dynamite factoid: Gerrit Cole was on the coast drinking Tempranillo when he heard about the trade. So then, he says, he drank a whole lot more. How should we take that? And I thought that was something you smoked. Or was that Tiparillo?

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  4. I think it’s time for White to be released. I think Straw is a weapon and needs to stay with the team. I like Kemp, but prefer straw. I am happy with the selection of the catcher from Cal. I have seen the ss from Ole Miss play against LSU and he’s a good one. (Not with the ceiling of Bregman or Correa, but higher than Super Jack). This is not supposed to be a high quality draft, but I think these two players will contribute down the road.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In the coming month, a lot of this stuff will take care of itself. We know Mayfield is gone. We pretty much know that Nephew will end up out on waivers unless he rediscovers what he provided from June to August of 2018. Thing is, I think his physical condition precludes that from happening. Stassi won’t go to waivers, even if Stubbs continues to impress. We’re too thin at the catcher position. And we all like Tony Kemp, but if you had a choice, would you rather have Straw or Fisher to score an important run from second on a base hit, or Kemp? And would you rather have Straw anywhere in the outfield late or Kemp? That said, Straw and/or Fisher will really have to impress in order for Kemp to be let go. Kemp is one guy that might draw a bit of interest as part of a larger trade. But other clubs are going to be asking about the fast guys.

    We’re lucky to have a healthy rotation, except for the loss of McHugh, we’re in good shape. But imagine losing any of our four reliable starters? That’s why I think Luhnow is working actively at a significant rotation acquisition. What an extended opportunity for Martin! He’s got stuff, but he looks different with every delivery. And yet he’s pitching for a team that has bailed him out over and over. If we keep winning 80% of his games, sending him back down for repairs is less urgent.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I want to see more of Straw. If I needed an important run scored from second base Tony Kemp would be one of the highest on my list from the current 40 man. He’d certainly beat out Marisnick, Springer, Altuve, and Fisher. None of those four take good angles. They make plays at the plate far closer than they should.

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  6. Kudos to Framber Valdez – my new hero. Coming in and throwing four quality innings when our starter stumbled and our bullpen was worn out? Priceless!

    I’ve never been Framber’s biggest proponent, because he walks too many people and gives up too many dingers, but last night he won me over. Well done, sir!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Meanwhile, there was a bit of a ‘Hallelujah’ in Corpus Christi last night. Brett Adcock, who has been really bad this year, made a quality start, pitched seven innings, and got his first win on the season for the Hooks. He is now 1-5 with a 7.25 ERA, a 1.54 WHIP, a .243 BA against, and 28 BBs allowed in 44.2 IP. Hopefully, Brett has finally gotten whatever the Astros had him working on down now and can turn his season around. [Last year, in combined work at A and AA, his ERA was 2.89, his BAA was .178, and his WHIP was 1.17].

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  8. Of all of the guys who are hurt, I’m very worried about Altuve and Springer.
    Both have the type of inguries that can be ongoing….especially Altuve’s.
    I can imagine the front office doesn’t want to DFA *any* of these guys, but this is big business. I googled Marcus Stroman last night, and it came up with a LOT of articles about the Astros being very interested in him. Evidently he has asked for a trade….stay tuned to this it might just get there. My neighbor is a Chef in town, and (I admit I don’t know where) but the team eat there often. When the guys were in town last week Garrett Cole wanted to come in the kitchen to watch Nick cook. He picked up a knife and started chopping stuff, and Nick told him if he got cut it wasn’t *his* fault! Nick has a lot of pictures of the guys, and of course he is a BIG fan of the guys! Google Stroman.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stroman is an interesting pitcher to pursue, Becky.
      – He’s 28 years old – they would owe him about $4 -5 million for the remainder of this year and then he would have one more year of arbitration – so probably $9 or 10 million for 2020, before free agency
      – The Blue Jays are 17.5 games back and starting a youth movement so they would be willing to talk you would think
      – Stroman is leading the AL in losses with 7 – which is due more to anemic offense (they scored approx. 2 runs per game in his losses) than his pitching as he sports a good 2.89 ERA in a tough division
      – He had a couple poor starts in early May, but has been overall very good this season
      – His WHIP is a little high (1.303) – he gives up a lot of hits, almost one per inning, but not too many HRs.
      – He is decent at avoiding the walks (3.1 per 9 IP), but his Ks are pretty low, only 7.0 per 9 IP – but that has been his norm.

      They really should be kicking the tires on him as he could help with the wobbly 5th spot in the rotation and could help span across 2020 as they may be losing Cole and McHugh.

      Liked by 1 person

    • If they want to give Corbin one more shot, a home game against the O’s, it’s about the best scenario possible. If he flunks out again, then they can bring Framber in, this time for 5 innings, which would prime him for the next start in place of Martin.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Nice article but to sum it up – he can not stay in the zone. He misses by a foot. Then when he gets near an edge, he does not get the call. That means higher pitch count, and fewer innings. “Stay In The Zone.”

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  9. And a good article about the Astros 3rd round pick-up – Big 10 player of the year CF Jordan Brewer. The description of his personality makes me think of George Springer……

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Astros take Colin Barber in the fourth round. Another CFer, this time from a high school in California. He’s the first LH batter the Astros have drafted this year. Bats left and throws left. 6’0 185 lbs.

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  11. Astros have drafted their third CFer of the day, Matthew Barefoot of Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC. Campbell won the Big South Tournament last week in Fayetteville’s new Segra Stadium.
    Barefoot is Houston’s 6th round pick.

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  12. In the seventh round of the draft, the Astros have selected UT starting RHP Blair Henley. Henley is from Arlington Heights HS and will bring the last four Rangers fans left in Texas with him.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. In the eighth round of the draft, the Astros selected their fourth athletic CFer of the draft. Eric Guerrero is out of Miami Dade CC, is 5’11”, 185 lbs and was the top rated prep SS in New York state in 2018. He bats and throws RH.

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    • There I go being wrong again. I really thought he’d get one more start, but it seems Hinch actually had lost patience. Maybe Corbin was ignoring instruction. But really, what is Reymin going to bring to the table?

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Concerning Altuve, Springer, Correa, and Diaz, as to who stays/goes – on the 25 man, there is an overload in the outfield. Currently 6. They show 4 on the infield to include Tyler. And 2 catchers. (Stubbs and Stassi just exchange places) If all others return healthy, Mayfield is obvious choice #1. Choice #2 and #3 would have to be 2 or 3 outfielders out of Straw, Fisher, or maybe Kemp. So #4 would appear to be a versatile Kemp or a one tool White. And to add a pitcher, it would appear both are sitting on the cliff. I give Kemp the nod of staying because he can play some infield and outfield, plus the DH can be where you rest one of your regulars.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. In the ninth round of the draft, the Astros have selected Peyton Battenfield, a big, RH reliever from Oklahoma State University. Battenfield has been very good so far in the NCAA Tournament.

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  16. Also of note is the Astros are in 2nd place in Grounded Into Double Play. Dodgers lead?? with 69. Houston has ONLY 60. And Brantley has 10 of them.

    I must have seen double re-runs of several of those because my under/over would have been 100.

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  17. 1. Brantley and Bregman never get cheated! Dudes can smell hits!
    2. We are pretty lucky we FINALLY have a catcher who hits! 3 homeruns in the last 3 games! We were due after *years* of putting up with catchers who were automatic outs.
    13 hits 11 runs goodnight⚾!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Josh James lets Miley down, but Guduan, Harris, Devo and Rodgers close out an 11-5 win.
    Let’s not overlook something. Guduan flew all the way to Seattle today, came into the game with the Astros behind and got out of a jam. The Astros came back and Reymin Guduan gets his first major league win.
    A memorable day for a guy we have been hoping could help us.

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  19. I guess I’m on the other side on this but I’m not blaming Josh James much here.
    He came on with two on and nobody out and got two outs. He then gave up a seeing eye pop fly to center that scored a run. I do blame him for the walk that followed.
    Guduan comes in with 2 outs and the bases loaded and grooves a fastball that is a bases clearing double and very close to a grand salami. He gets the next guy out and gets the win when the Astros rally.
    My point is that we will never know if James could have gotten one more out and kept the lead, but we know Guduan could not get the out against a left handed hitter who was 3 for 24 against lefties.

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  20. Interesting story…
    During the off-season there were a couple of experienced, 32 year old outfielders on the market, who were both expected to get offers in the 3 year $45 million range.
    Andrew McCutchen signed with the Phillies for 3 years $50 million and has performed well for them to date.
    Michael Brantley signed with the Astros for 2 years $32 million and has performed even better.
    McCutchen just went down with a torn ACL.
    No way to know if our front office chased McCutchen, but they seem to have picked the right guy again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Since injuries have been an unwelcome factor last year and this, how do metrics and human scouting and Edgertronic cameras, etc., figure in forecasting injury-
      proneness?

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      • Really good question Diane
        I have not seen where they are using this for to predict problems, however this may be one of those areas where the team is working on it in secret to get some type of edge over the world. I wouldn’t doubt that they have data on what arm angles, strides, body angles, etc result in more arm injuries ……

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  21. I don’t know if they have a machine that can predict proneness to injury. But the Astros do have a machine that instantly can tell them the extent of an injury, so that they can correctly treat it at the outset. they also are on the cutting edge of sports medicine to predict and recover from injuries and find ways to avoid them, while strengthening troubled areas.
    They also have now learned that private massages are hazardous to your health.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. I am not a fan of a national venue like MLBTR discussing whether a team should fire a manager and having a poll included.
    There is a lot to discuss in baseball without peeing all over a guy’s career.

    Liked by 2 people

    • OP –
      That is a very unusual poll for that web site – usually their polls linger on “which team is likely to sign player X” type questions.
      I assume since it is the high profile Big Apple (Mets) they are hoping to get a lot more clicks than normal for this poll and clicks mean bucks in the world of for-profit sites.

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  23. I’m sure glad Reymin got a win last night. Guys on this club keep picking each other up. But, Guduan has a lifetime WHIP of 1.723 in the minor leagues. At 27 now, he’s going to have to be a late bloomer. Big tall lefty, he sure looks the part, but does anyone here really have any expectations of him? Are there encouraging advanced stats that I would not know anything about?

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  24. Today’s possible quote from Tony Kemp: “You don’t have to hit a scoreboard. All you gotta do is make the ball break the plane”.

    Today’s possible quote from Reymin Guduan: “All’s well that ends well, right?”

    Today’s possible quote from Josh Reddick: “Oh, Kyle Seager, you silly boy. The Dinger Nazi says: ‘No home runs for you’!”

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Folks we need to keep Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco in your thoughts and prayers. He has been diagnosed with a blood disorder, and is taking a break from baseball. I just hope and pray it’s NOT leukemia😢

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    • Amen Becky – let’s pray for something quickly treatable and he comes back to the game he loves. Very good pitcher for a lot of years and that just does not matter right now.

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