The Houston Astros have taken some huge shots over the past two seasons. With the sign stealing scandal in the rearview mirror, players have fallen at the worst times for a team looking to make it back to the World Series in what could be their last season dominating the American League West.
While Framber Valdez’s finger is healing well and will not require surgery and Forrest Whitley having Tommy John surgery, we haven’t had a full update on their timetables or if they will remain on the 40-man roster. One of them will most likely be moved for Pedro Baez, who returned to camp today for the first time since he tested positive for COVID-19. As the only pitcher to have tested positive, all quarantined Astros pitchers are back in workouts.
With the season right around the corner, here are a few injury and roster updates for the Astros.
While Baez has been out, this could leave Andre Scrubb to take his spot in the bullpen to start the season, if the experienced right-hander is not fully ramped up for the regular season. While we don’t have a full update on Jake Odorizzi and his spring training progression, we can assume he might not be ready by the Opening Series either, and this could leave it up to a pitcher like Luis Garcia and Bryan Abreu to take his place to start the season.
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Looking at depth, Josh James has arrived to West Palm Beach, and while still being on the 40-man, the Astros are relying on his experience and ability to start down the stretch. Although hitting a “physical setback,” the right-hander is recovering well from his hip surgery that cut his season short in 2020. James is not in camp yet, as he is going through intake protocol, the need for the right-hander and Austin Pruitt is growing.
An anticipated return in Justin Verlander is something worth evaluating if the Astros make it to the postseason, while they are expected to. The right-hander threw his first pitch since his Tommy John surgery and will start rehabbing in hopes of a return by October in the bullpen. While missing almost all of 2020, Verlander is a veteran player with an expiring contract that will be heavily needed come October.
More roster cuts were announced as Pedro Leon, Scott Manea, Austin Hansen and Ronel Blanco were all reassigned to the minor leagues. While these players can still play in spring training games, Leon hasn’t recorded his first hit just yet in nine at bats; Manea can say the same in only four. Hansen and Blanco have gone a combined 4.1 innings with a 0.00 ERA. These cuts should put the Astros around 56 players waiting for an assignment.