Following the disappointing end of the ALCS, it is time for the Astros to address their wounds and heal.
The 2018 season was something else, right? Not only did the Astros win a franchise-best 103 games, it did so despite various injuries to star players. Every baseball team goes through a fair share of injuries each season, but this year felt different.
Anyway, the healing process can now begin for the Astros. That probably sounds like sweet music in a way to players like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Charlie Morton, and Lance McCullers, who’ve all dealt with various ailments. Probably the entire roster, too, if I am fair. Spring training with a 162-game season followed by eight postseason games isn’t an easy schedule for any baseball player.
The question now is whether the injuries and subsequent recovery will continue to play a part in 2019? That’s to be determined, but Brian McTaggart of MLB.com does shed some light on the subject here. According to the article, Alex Bregman describes that Altuve’s sore right knee “as big as a grapefruit.” That’s not good, yet the injury just adds to the growing legend of the Astros’ second baseman.
Here’s what manager AJ Hinch had to say about Altuve’s knee injury and how it may have played out differently in the regular season.
"“If it was any other time of the year, he wouldn’t be in the lineup or wouldn’t be playing,” Hinch said prior to Game 5."
On the plus side, there sounds like a plan is already in place. Hopefully it doesn’t linger past the offseason.
"“I’ve got to go talk to the trainers in a couple of days, and I bet we’re going to sit down and try to figure out what we know,” Altuve said."
Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers were the other two players mentioned specifically in the article. Based on McTaggart’s work, it doesn’t appear certain whether the soon-to-be free agent, Morton, will have surgery or not on his ailing right shoulder. Houston would probably like to retain his services, especially in light of McCullers’ own right arm issues.
At first glance though, it doesn’t sound like McCullers is too optimistic about his injury.
"“We’re going to figure all that stuff out,” he said. “I’m pretty banged up. Other guys are banged up, too. That’s going to be something down the road the next couple of days, the next couple of weeks we’ll figure out.”"
Even the dreaded Tommy John surgery was mentioned.
"McCullers was coy when asked about a report stating he was pitching through a tear of his ulnar collateral ligament and was headed for Tommy John surgery, which would put him out for all of 2019."
If McCullers is out for any portion of the 2019 season, it becomes clear that the Astros may have address the starting rotation again. At this time, the Gerrit Cole trade looks better and better with each passing day.
Injuries in baseball, like any sport, can have a negative effect on a club. All of Houston’s players surely felt those effects as the season wore on. While we’re only one day removed from the Astros removal in the postseason, the 2019 season isn’t far away. Before we know it, the winter meetings will be upon us. For general manager Jeff Luhnow and his front office, the sooner they figure stuff out with their players, the better. The club’s plans will impacted, directly or indirectly, by any development.