The Astros lineup we have been dreaming about all season may finally be near.
Jose Altuve hit on the field before Tuesday night's game against the division rival Rangers, and said after the fact, "I'm ready." He prefers to avoid a minor league rehab assignment and would rather jump right into games with the big league club.
His timing could not be better.
The Astros took the first game of the series against the AL West leading Rangers, trimming their division deficit to two. They are in a prime position to take the second game as well. The Rangers will be deploying a bullpen game, and are likely down arguably their best reliever in Aroldis Chapman, who has thrown back-to-back days.
If the Astros can pull within one game in the standings, only to roll out Jose Altuve, and possibly Yordan Alvarez, in the series finale, what an absolute haymaker the Astros would throw at the Rangers.
Dusty Baker said both Altuve and Alvarez would be evaluated tomorrow before a decision is made.
That the Astros are 57-44 having received only 13 combined games of both Altuve and Alvarez in the lineup is a testament to their resilience. They're missing two perennial MVP candidates and have stayed afloat.
Adding two guys that fall out of bed and hit .300 with a 900+ OPS is just unfair to the rest of the league. No longer would Houston be forced to deploy lineups featuring inexperienced and untested rookies, or big leaguers that have been overmatched at the plate this year.
The return of Alvarez coupled with the emergence of Chas McCormick as one of the best hitters on the planet and an All-Star in Kyle Tucker would give them one of the best outfields in baseball. Corey Julks could be a late game pinch hitter or Jake Meyers could be a defensive sub, though either would be expendable in a deadline deal.
A lineup featuring Altuve, McCormick, Alvarez, Bregman, Tucker, Abreu, and Diaz is incredibly balanced and deep. You can assume they'll either find an upgrade bat to take Michael Brantley's place, or Uncle Mike would finally return. 2022 ALCS and World Series MVP Jeremy Peña would bat ninth.
When the season began, the Astros were supposed to be one of, if not the best lineups in baseball. We may be only one game away from seeing them be just that.
Rangers, you've got a problem.