HOUSTON -- As All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve progresses through an injury rehab stint with Triple-A Round Rock that could have him returning to the Astros later this week, the club will begin to slowly welcome back some key players from the injured list.
Altuve’s return should be followed closely by center fielder George Springer, who’s nearing a rehab assignment, and catcher Max Stassi, who’s with Altuve in Round Rock. Shortstop Carlos Correa and infielder Aledmys Diaz are on slower trajectories, but the Astros haven’t skipped a beat in the absence of so many key position players.
Despite losing 12-0 to the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park, where they surrendered five home runs (two each off starter Brad Peacock and reliever Cionel Perez), the Astros are 48-24 and on a 108-win pace.
The Astros took two of three from the Blue Jays and haven’t lost a series since the Twins won three out of four from them at Target Field from April 29-May 2. They are 11-0-2 in series play, including four sweeps, heading into an Interleague series that begins Monday in Cincinnati.
“We’ve been one of the best teams in baseball during this stretch where a portion of our team has been on the injured list,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “Our guys have done a good job of coming to the ballpark ready to play. We’ve won series after series. … The way this team has played for the stretch in which we’ve been down a couple of guys has been remarkable. I’m very proud of our guys.”
Since Correa (broken rib) joined Springer (left hamstring strain), Altuve (left hamstring strain/right leg fatigue) and Diaz (left hamstring strain) on the injured list on May 27, the Astros are 13-5. Here’s a closer look at how some of the players who have helped Houston maintain one of baseball’s best records have performed:
DH/LF Yordan Alvarez (called up for LHP Reymin Guduan)
Alvarez wasn’t brought up to replace an injured player straight up, but his gaudy numbers at Triple-A Round Rock and the Astros’ need for a bat in the wake of the Altuve, Correa and Springer injuries made it happen. He went 0-for-4 Sunday in his sixth game in the big leagues and is hitting .381 with four homers, eight RBIs and a 1.471 OPS. Terrific. When the Astros get back to full strength, having Alvarez in the lineup will add a different dimension.
OF/IF Myles Straw (called up to replace Correa)
Straw has proven to be a valuable weapon with his combination of speed and defense and could be a candidate to remain with the club for the rest of the season. He went 1-for-4 on Sunday and is hitting .281 with a .378 OBP and three stolen bases, which all came on June 2 at Oakland. He’s started one game at shortstop but is clearly best suited in the outfield.
IF Jack Mayfield (called up to replace Diaz)
Mayfield, undrafted out of Oklahoma, reached the big leagues at 28 years old on May 27 and doubled in his first at-bat before enduring an 0-for-24 slump. He had three doubles and three runs scored in Saturday’s win and went 1-for-4 Sunday. He’s hitting .143 and has played a solid shortstop, and likely remains with the Major League club until Correa returns in a few weeks.
C Garrett Stubbs (called up to replace Stassi)
Stubbs, whose younger brother was drafted by the Astros earlier this month, has made five starts at catcher since coming up and has performed well behind the plate. Stubbs even made his first career appearance in the outfield Sunday, playing left field and right field. Offensively, he’s hitting .182 this year and is likely headed back to Round Rock when Stassi returns, but he’ll be back in Houston at some point.
OF Derek Fisher (called up to replace Springer)
Fisher hit leadoff and started 13 games in his second stint in the big leagues this year following the Springer injury, including eight starts in left field. The Astros’ pitching was stretched so thin they had to send Fisher back to Round Rock on Thursday, but his speed and power and the strides he’s made at the plate this year mean he’s always one of the first outfielders to get called up following an injury.