The Houston Astros’ campaign to show that their dominance doesn’t require a trash can has been dealt another blow.
Reigning American League Rookie of the Year Yordan Álvarez is officially done for the season after learning his ailing right knee will require surgery.
Yordan Alvarez to undergo surgery to repair tear in patella tendon in right knee. Season over. @astros
— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) August 19, 2020
Earlier on Wednesday, Astros manager Dusty Baker indicated that Álvarez’s season could be in jeopardy during an appearance on a Houston radio station.
From the Houston Chronicle:
“Yordan Alvarez, it looks like he’s done, maybe for the year, maybe,” Baker said on KBME 790 in response to a general question about the team’s health. “We’ll see.”
Álvarez had been activated from the 10-day IL just last Friday after missing the start of the season for an undisclosed reason. He would end up on the IL again just four days later with what the Astros called “right knee discomfort.”
The hope had been that Álvarez’s addition to the lineup would jump-start an offense that had gone from leading the majors in wOBA last year to ranking 22nd this season entering Wednesday. The 23-year-old was one of the best hitters in baseball on a rate basis last year, with a .313/.412/.655 slash line and 27 homers. He appeared to fulfill that potential when he launched a three-run homer in his first plate appearance of the season.
Instead, he now represents another loss the Astros are going to have to overcome.
The Astros have some issues
In addition to being without Álvarez for the rest of the season, the Astros are also missing their top starting pitcher in Justin Verlander and their top reliever in Roberto Osuna, as well as a number of other important parts.
Verlander has been out since his opening day start with a forearm strain. The reigning Cy Young winner was initially reported as being out for the season, but the Astros later clarified he would be shut down and later re-evaluated. He started playing catch again on Monday, but there is clearly a long road ahead of him before he can return to the mound.
Osuna will also be out for some time since leaving an appearance with elbow discomfort and landing on the IL. Despite a report of him needing Tommy John surgery, the Astros hope he can return this season.
The loss of both of those arms could be a problem when the team already lost co-ace Gerrit Cole as well as set-up man Will Harris in free agency last offseason. Add in IL trips for players like Álvarez, Michael Brantley, Chris Devenski, Aledmys Diaz and Jose Urquidy, and it’s probably fair to say the Astros are depleted.
And yet, even with all those injuries and offensive struggles — Jose Altuve is still well below the Mendoza Line at .168 — the Astros are 13-10 and just 2.5 games back from the first-place Oakland Athletics. The team has won six straight games, including a sweep of the Seattle Mariners. If the season ended today, they would be the AL’s No. 6 seed in the expanded postseason.
The team’s depth has kept them afloat in a high-pressure season, but you have to wonder if the loss and struggles of so many All-Stars could eventually cause the bottom to drop out.
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