Even when the Astros win a game, they can’t do it without bad news. In a 2-1 game in the third inning with the bases loaded, Maxwell was hit by a pitch from Hisashi Iwakuma. Maxwell went on to play another half inning until he realized he broke his hand. After the game, the Astros placed him on the DL and called up Robbie Grossman.
Justin Maxwell was supposed to get all the at-bats in center field this year. It was a bad break (no pun intended) for the Astros and Maxwell. Justin was hitting .234 with one home run on the year before getting injured. I believe the Astros were hoping Maxwell would get off to nice start in hopes of possibly trading him at the deadline for a future piece. Maxwell is 29 years old, and really has no place on this team within the next year or two. Had Maxwell been healthy for the first few months, I doubt he would have been part of the team come August. Now, it’s possible the Astros can’t get enough value for him to justify shipping him by the deadline, with the injury keeping him out. Maxwell has played an above-average center field, and has been one of the leaders of this young Astros ball club. It’s a tough loss for the Astros, but I’m sure Maxwell will come back strong when he is fully healed. There is no timetable for Maxwell’s return, but I imagine he will be out at least six weeks.
With Maxwell on the DL, the Astros called up Robbie Grossman from OKC. Drafted by the Pirates in the 6th round, the 23-year old Grossman was shipped to Houston in the Wandy Rodriguez trade. Grossman, a Cy-Fair High School graduate, hit .324 in OKC with an .805 OPS. His 20/16 – K/BB ratio is impressive, and he has played a perfect center field so far this year.
With Grossman on the team, and likely for good, he should be getting most of the playing time in center field. Brandon Barnes will likely get an up-tick in playing time, but I believe Grossman should be the starter. The Astros need to get runners on base, and Grossman has been getting on base at OKC with a .452 OBP. Barnes has had a good year, but the Astros are still rebuilding and need to play the younger guys first. With Grossman in the lineup, he should be batting lead-off, allowing Altuve to finally bat second. The 1-2 punch of Grossman and Altuve should be fun this year, though we still lack a good #3 hitter. Bo Porter has full lineup control, and we will see how he chooses to play Grossman and Barnes.
Now that Grossman has been called-up, someone will have to replace him at OKC. George Springer is off to a great start in Corpus Christi, and is a potential candidate to be called up to OKC. If Springer is called up, it’s possible that Delino DeShields gets called up to Corpus Christi to replace Springer. These are two of the top prospects in the Astros farm system, so it will be interesting to see if the Astros move both of their prospects up a level. We should find out sooner rather than later, about the Astros plans to replace Grossman at OKC.
Today, Grossman is in the lineup batting lead-off, with Altuve batting second. Make sure you tune in at 1:10 PM to watch Grossman make his debut against the Mariners.