Red Sox vs. Astros: Jose Altuve could be limited to DH in ALCS Game 3 due to nagging knee injury

HOUSTON -- Earlier this season, for the first time in his big league career, Jose Altuve had to be placed on the disabled list. An achy knee sidelined him for about four weeks in July and August. On Monday, Astros manager A.J. Hinch confirmed the knee is still giving Altuve some problems.

"He's doing his best. It's not comfortable for him. I know he's what we call grinding and battling and doing everything that he can," said Hinch. "... Obviously (the knee) didn't hurt his swing in the ninth inning (in Game 2). He's able to be a productive player. But he's battling a little bit."

Hinch said he is considering putting Altuve at DH for Game 3 -- Marwin Gonzalez would play second base in that case, Hinch added -- just to get him off his feet a bit. Games 3-5 of the ALCS will be played on three consecutive days and the Astros don't want to push Altuve too much and have the knee become a bigger problem.

Altuve is 5 for 22 (.227) with a home run through five postseason games and 1 for 8 (.125) in the ALCS. He did finish the regular season quite strong, hitting .307/.409/.453 with three home runs in his final 20 games. It's worth noting Altuve attempted only five stolen bases in 33 games after returning from the disabled list, which may indicate he's trying to protect the knee.

"Team-wise, I think we are where we want to be. And I'm really happy with that. We've been working many years to become a playoff team. We did it last year. We had a lot of success," said Altuve last week. "Individually, I think I could do better. A lot of ups and downs for me this year, but we're here in the playoffs and it's an opportunity to redeem (my) season."

MLB: ALCS-Workouts
Jose Altuve has been dealing with a nagging knee problem since July. USATSI

With Altuve out and Gonzalez sliding from left field to second base, the Astros figure to install the speedy Tony Kemp in left and remove Tyler White, the incumbent DH, from the lineup. The other left field option would be Jake Marisnick, though Kemp is a much more productive hitter and, as a left-handed hitter, he'd also have the platoon advantage against Red Sox Game 3 starter Nathan Eovaldi.

Here's what Houston's lineup could look like with Altuve at DH in Game 3:

  1. CF George Springer
  2. DH Jose Altuve
  3. 3B Alex Bregman
  4. 1B Yuli Gurriel
  5. 2B Marwin Gonzalez
  6. SS Carlos Correa
  7. RF Josh Reddick
  8. C Martin Maldonado
  9. LF Tony Kemp

Correa has struggled ever since suffering a back injury and returning from the disabled list in August, though he is starting to find his stroke, and Hinch could move him up in the lineup in Game 3. Point is, even with Altuve relegated to DH, the Astros can plug the underrated Kemp into the lineup and still run a very formidable batting order out there.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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