Jose Abreu’s return to Astros has been about as rough as everyone expected

For those that hoped that Jose Abreu was fixed, the last few games have been a cold dose of reality.
Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners
Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Expectations were understandably low when the Houston Astros decided to bring Jose Abreu back from the minor leagues. That isn't a knock on what Abreu has done in his career or who he is as a human being, but an acknowledgment of reality. Ever since Abreu signed with the Astros, he has dealt with injuries and very much has looked like an aging hitter on his way out of the league.

Still, Abreu is still a guy that has been among the best hitters in baseball and there was at least a glimmer of hope that he could turn back time for a little while. Unfortunately, in the games he has played since returning from the minors, there has been little sign that much has changed after he got optioned to get a swing overhaul.

The Astros can't be very excited about what they are seeing from Jose Abreu right now

Going into Friday's matchup with the Twins (he was benched for that game, too), Abreu has appeared in three games since returning from the minor leagues. The good news is that he does have two hits over that span, which is a better rate than what he was putting up before his minor league vacation.

The bad news is ... a bit longer of a list. Both of those hits were singles, which is obviously not ideal. However, the bigger problem is that in his 10 plate appearances since returning, he has struck out five times. His 26.4% strikeout rate so far in 2024 is the highest of his career by a wide margin.

Some have thought that given his age, it would be logical that his bat is just slowing down and that he needed to try and do damage on breaking and off-speed stuff instead of turning on fastballs he can't hit. However, he has somehow been worse against breaking balls and off-speed pitches than against the hard stuff this season. Adjusting one's timing against velocity is a potentially fixable problem, but "can't hit anything" is a much tougher riddle to solve.

For the Astros' sake, one hopes that Abreu can figure things out soon. It is nice that he collected a couple of hits at least, but it definitely doesn't seem like he is any less lost than he was before, and that could be a big problem.

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