The reinforcements may not arrive for the Houston Astros if the team does manage to sneak into the postseason.
Even though the season has 12 games remaining, the Houston Astros are on the outside looking in for the second Wild Card spot. After all, the team only had an 11.6% chance per Fangraphs to appear in the postseason as of yesterday.
Just don’t count on Dallas Keuchel to come in and save the day for the Astros come October. Well, unless they manage to go far.
And the Astros top rookie Alex Bregman is also a longshot to appear in any hypothetical postseason games this year.
Shoulder and hamstring injuries, while different, are both cumbersome for any team. Especially when those injuries affect some of the team’s more notable players.
Keuchel, while he hasn’t pitched to his outstanding standard of the past two seasons, is still the workhorse of the Astros rotation. Before his injury he had pitched 168.0 innings in 26 starts. Regardless of the results, it is hard to replace one pitcher who can eat innings with another one in August. At least there was no structural damage to Keuchel’s shoulder so hopefully rest will do some good.
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And Bregman had arguably made the Astros trio of talented young hitters (Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa) into a quartet. Once you look past his slow start, Bregman eventually raised his OPS+ to 115 before his hamstring injury. It was downright disappointing to see a hitter slashing .316/.339/.649 in the month of September go down.
But time for some good news!
The Astros could in fact see Lance McCullers throw off the mound relatively soon. And that is a welcoming as the Astros starting rotation has been dismal for the most part in September.
This is definitely encouraging news for the Astros on multiple fronts. For one, the team may be able to recoup a portion of their rotation manpower if the postseason somehow, almost miraculously, happens. And the state of McCullers arm, which has been a ongoing concern. Who would’ve thought that McCullers would throw so much sooner Keuchel a few weeks ago?
Per a recent article from Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle, the Astros beat writer provided some insight into McCullers’ and Keuchel’s respective injury situations.
"McCullers is closer than Keuchel, who is still only two weeks removed from being shut down because of left shoulder inflammation, a period of rest that doctors recommended to last four to six weeks, according to Keuchel."
Of course, the odds are against the Astros in the major way of making the postseason. Unless a micraoulous run takes place, it is likely that the trio of Keuchel, Bregman, and McCullers will not make another appearance in 2016. Don’t forget that the Astros cannot send any of their players to the minors for a rehab stint. And it would be unrealistic to shut players down then just throw them into the fire after no time to shake the rust off.
Who knows though at the end of the day? Maybe the 2016 Astros have one last run, one more surprise in them?
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference**