Astros: Impact of Luis Valbuena’s Injury

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Jul 26, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros third baseman Luis Valbuena (18) is evaluated by medical staff after an injury during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 26, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros third baseman Luis Valbuena (18) is evaluated by medical staff after an injury during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Astros third baseman Luis Valbuena and his injured right hamstring will divert some attention away from the trade deadline this upcoming weekend.

Hamstring injuries can be flat out scary. This is especially true if it involves your starting third baseman who has been a driving force behind a resurgent offense this summer.

By now everyone has heard that Luis Valbuena had to exit Tuesday’s game against the New York Yankees following his spill while running down the first-base line. The initial scene looked much worse than a strained hamstring, but thankfully for the Astros Valbuena should be fine in a matter of days. However, it remains to be seen how his leg will react following their off day tomorrow and the team’s upcoming weekend series in Detroit that starts Friday.

Per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, it appears that Astros manager A.J. Hinch is hopeful that Valbuena misses the disabled list after he receives a few days of rest. Between the off day today and the Astros facing a left-handed starter Friday, Hinch hinted at giving Valbuena time off till Saturday so his ailing leg can heal.

Let’s be hopeful that is truly the case. After all, the Astros can’t really afford to lose a hitter that has an OPS+ of 120. Not to mention the solid job Valbuena does at third base with the glove would surely be missed if he was placed on the disabled list.

But say that happens; who do the Astros turn to at third base?

The easy answer would probably be a combination of Marwin Gonzalez and Alex Bregman.

Gonzalez is known as the Astros “super”-utility position player. Outside of catcher and pitcher, there probably isn’t a position that Gonzalez couldn’t play and provide adequate defense. His bat also makes him versatile all over the lineup. However, the Astros may not want to lose his versatility, especially with first base still in limbo most nights.

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This is where you enter Bregman.

The LSU product hasn’t gotten off to a great start with the bat since beginning his major league career. Don’t worry though as Bregman will have plenty of time to prove himself in the lineup as he adjusts to major league pitching. More importantly, right now, he flashed some potential with his glove during his debut earlier in the week against the Yankees. And this is after playing just one game in the minors as a third baseman.

Bregman’s availability at third base will allow the Astros the same lineup flexibility that the team enjoyed with Valbuena. And while Bregman’s bat is still relatively unproven when compared to the powerful one of Valbuena’s, he should be able to provide decent defense at the hot corner until the latter returns from his hamstring injury.

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Regardless of how well Bregman plays at the hot corner, I still expect Gonzalez to receive a start here and there if Valbuena’s injury turns out to be more cumbersome than originally thought. Of course, all of this planning could be for naught if the Astros powerful slugger comes back just fine this weekend. But it is a good idea to have a contingency or two in mind when dealing with leg injuries.

**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference**

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