Chas McCormick Activated From IL; Rylan Bannon Optioned As Astros Still Carry Three Catchers
By Alec Brown
The Astros offense should get a boost this evening. Center fielder Chas McCormick was activated off of the injured list and is starting in center field and batting seventh for Houston.
McCormick got off to a hot start to begin the season for the Astros, hitting .275 with an .883 OPS and a 142 OPS+. He hit two home runs and drove in nine. McCormick should immediately help Houston's woes from the right handed side of the plate. Righties have only posted a .677 OPS with a mere .367 slug this season.
While Chas should help, he will be battling Jake Meyers for playing time, one of the only everyday regulars that has hit this season. Meyers is batting .258 with a .706 OPS. They aren't numbers that set the world on fire, but they are far better than what Houston is getting elsewhere.
While he's batting seventh, hopefully we see Chas back in the leadoff spot soon. Dubón did his part to help weather the storm, but he is an almost exclusively singles hitter that doesn't walk and has cooled off immensely since his hitting-streak came to an end. Over the last two weeks, Dubón is hitting only .217 with a .565 OPS and only one walk to 11 strikeouts. His 84 OPS+ is below league-average and better suited for eighth or ninth in the lineup.
Chas hit .318 with a .946 OPS when batting leadoff. With Houston struggling to push runs across, they need an actual threat atop the order.
Rylan Bannon was optioned back to AAA after picking up only six at-bats. The Astros continued to carry César Salazar, so the three catcher system beats on. This continues to be indefensible with Dusty Baker still refusing to pinch hit for Martín Maldonado late in games (Maldy led off the top of the 8th last night with the Astros trailing 3-1) and Yainer Diaz not even getting a shot to catch a non-rookie pitcher.
Michael Brantley is also in the clubhouse today, but hasn't yet been activated. Once Brantley is back, it should be Salazar that is sent down, though David Hensley hasn't built much of a case to stick around. Hensley is playing third today as Alex Bregman gets a DH day.
With McCormick back and Brantley following shortly, Houston's offensive struggles should be lessened. The lone remaining lineup staple missing would of course be Jose Altuve, who should be back at the end of the month. Once he is back, Mauricio Dubón likely reverts to a utility role as Hensley becomes expendable.