The AL West leading Houston Astros will be without their All-Star double play combination for the foreseeable future. Earlier this week second baseman Jose Altuve was with "fatigue and soreness" in his surgically repaired right leg. Now shortstop Carlos Correa has been placed on the injured list with a fractured rib, the team announced Wednesday. He's expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
Monday was a planned off-day for Correa, and he was originally in Tuesday's lineup before alerting the team to the rib soreness. Manager A.J. Hinch told reporters, including Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle, that Correa had been "getting some treatment and stuff" at home before letting the club know he was hurting.
Astros president of baseball ops and GM Jeff Luhnow said Correa injury happened Tuesday morning at his home and he deferred to Correa to divulge any more information.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) May 29, 2019
The Astros are also without utility infielder Aledmys Diaz, who is on the injured list with a hamstring injury. Undrafted free agent Jack Mayfield was called up to replace Diaz and utility man Myles Straw was called up Wednesday to replace Correa. Straw is a career outfielder who started playing shortstop this year. He has 25 minor league games worth of experience at the position.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel slid over to third base the last two games and it is expected he will remain there going forward, with Alex Bregman moving to his natural shortstop position. Mayfield and utility man Tony Kemp figure to receive the majority of the playing time at second base. Straw at short, Bregman at third, and Gurriel at second is another possibility.
Keep in mind George Springer is on the injured list as well. He has a Grade 2 hamstring strain and will miss several weeks. That means the Astros are currently without three star-caliber up-the-middle players in Altuve, Correa, and Springer. Ouch. With the understanding there is lots of day-to-day wiggle room, Houston's lineup for the time being could look something like this:
- RF Josh Reddick
- SS Alex Bregman
- DH Michael Brantley
- 3B Yuli Gurriel
- 1B Tyler White
- C Robinson Chirinos
- LF Derek Fisher
- CF Jake Marisnick
- 2B Jack Mayfield/Tony Kemp
The good news? The Astros have a 7 1/2-game lead over the surging Athletics in the AL West. There is a lot of season still to be played, so I wouldn't call that lead safe just yet, but Houston does have a nice cushion. Should they look outside the organization for help, short-term trade candidates include Neil Walker and Starlin Castro of the Marlins, and Brian Dozier of the Nationals.
For now, the Astros can be patient and see how Altuve responds to treatment, and determine whether they actually need to go out and trade for infield depth. Losing one of Altuve, Correa, or Springer is a big blow. Losing all three at the same time can be potentially devastating. Few teams are as deep as the Astros though, and they might be able to weather the storm internally.