Astros: Five players who benefit from shortened 2020 season

Houston Astros, Yordan Alvarez (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Houston Astros, Yordan Alvarez (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Here are five Houston Astros players who stand to benefit from this 2020 season.

Now that an MLB season is finally in place, we can start to focus on actual baseball instead of the bickering between the owners and players. It’s a refreshing thing after everything that’s happened since the heartbreaking end to the 2019 World Series for the Houston Astros.

This season is only 60 games, which is sad but inevitable. There are plenty of players who stand to benefit from this shortened season and some of the provisions put in place for it. Specifically, here are five Astros players who’ll gain from this abbreviated campaign.

Yordan Alvarez

The sophomore slugger, fresh off winning the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2019, was battling soreness in both knees back in Spring Training after dealing with it at times last year as well. The time off has probably been good for him and allowed him to rest.

What’ll really help him is the fact that there will be a universal DH in 2020. With the Astros slated to play the NL West teams in addition to those within their own division, manager Dusty Baker doesn’t have to play him in the outfield at all if he doesn’t want to. This should help minimize the wear and tear and help keep his potent bat in the lineup on a daily basis.

Justin Verlander

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The time off has been good to Verlander as well, who’s been recuperating from surgery on his groin back in March. The latest word from Baker is that Verlander is healthy and pain-free, so he should be ready to go on Opening Day.

The short season will probably be good for him as well. As good as he was in 2019, he seemed to break down in the postseason, especially in the World Series. He threw a major league-leading 223 innings in the regular season plus another 35.1 innings in the postseason. A shortened campaign should help keep him fresh, which will be important with Gerrit Cole gone to the Yankees.

Lance McCullers Jr

After missing all of 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery, McCullers was going to be on some degree of an innings limit for 2020. Now that the pandemic has drastically shortened the season, he might not be on much of a limit at all.

This will be good for McCullers, who’ll be able to pitch largely as normal, but it’s also good for the Astros. Their rotation depth is a little thin, so having McCullers available every fifth day (barring injury or illness) is a nice boost to a rotation that could use one. His pitch count might be somewhat limited, but we can live with that.

Carlos Correa

When healthy, Correa is one of the best all-around players in the game, playing premium defense and providing a clutch, middle-of-the-order bat. He’s also become one of my favorite Astros in recent months with his public comments in defense of his team.

But staying on the field hasn’t been his strong suit, as only once in his five seasons has he appeared in more than 110 games in a season. He was limited to only 75 in 2019, so perhaps a shorter schedule will help keep him fresh and healthy as well. We can hope so, at least.

Abraham Toro

Toro didn’t set the world on fire, but he showed enough promise in his 25-game debut in 2019 to warrant consideration for a roster spot. However, even with a 26-man roster, he was highly unlikely to make the Opening Day squad before the pandemic shut everything down. The Astros have a crowded position player group that just didn’t leave room for him.

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Now, however, he could make it. Teams will start the season with 30-man rosters before that number is decreased to 28 and finally to 26. He could have a case to make the 30-man squad, and if he’s off the roster, he would likely be the first infielder called up in the event of an injury or illness. In other words, the team’s No. 3 prospect has a better shot at playing time in this shortened season.