After a miserable weekend in terms of losing ground on the AL West lead (two games ahead of Oakland), the Houston Astros dropped their third game of a four-game series to the rebuilding Minnesota Twins. The bullpen has exceeded expectations compared to the struggling rotation, while certain position players have had days off or have been bit by the injury bug.
A collision at second base led to Michael Brantley exiting Sunday’s contest early, while his replacement, Jake Meyers, acquired his first major-league hit. There wasn’t anything else reported on the left-hander, but with Rafael Montero exiting with shoulder soreness, the Astros were so close to 100% healthy again.
For Alex Bregman, the third baseman returned to Minute Maid Park on Sunday to be evaluated in-person by the Astros’ staff. The right-hander is anticipated to join the team on Tuesday, as Montero to the injured list or Jacob Wilson optioned could either be his corresponding move.
Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel could be back in the Astros’ lineup this week, so how will it look?
Bregman is no longer with the Sugar Land Skeeters, as the Triple-A affiliate continues their series in Round Rock. With joining the lineup soon, the right-hander might not take his job back instantly, while being eased back into a groove.
Aledmys Diaz will continue to fill in where needed, as Yuli Gurriel remains on the injured list with a stiff neck, his role would move back over to first base. Gurriel’s 10-day IL stint is retroactive to his last appearance, which was August 3, making him eligible for the weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels.
This puts the Astros in a perfect spot to put the lineup back together. Here is what a healthy starting nine looks like, as the last time it was 100%, Myles Straw was on the team:
Jose Altuve 2B
Michael Brantley LF (L)
Alex Bregman 3B
Yordan Alvarez DH (L)
Carlos Correa SS
Yuli Gurriel 1B
Kyle Tucker RF (L)
Chas McCormick CF
Martin Maldonado C / Jason Castro C (L)
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There are a slew of ways this lineup can move, but looking at just the names, it is top five in baseball. To start of the next series, we might not see Bregman receiving a top percentage of at-bats, while this is the lineup we could see the team ease into.
Kyle Tucker falling to the seventh spot is tough, but it shows how deep it can get, while also dropping a left-handed bat in the bottom third of the order. Chas McCormick could also have a case to hit ninth, as a second leadoff hitter. But I like the center fielder in the eighth spot, because he isn’t the same bat as Straw was for the ball club.
The Astros are back on the field on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. with Jake Odorizzi countering right-hander Jon Gray. With Alvarez feeling sore during Sunday’s game, the left-hander could get the day off, possibly granting Meyers’ his first major-league start.