June 21, 2024

According to GM Dana Brown, the Astros are expected to welcome back a couple of regular players to the major league roster in the coming days. Brown shared this update with club radio broadcaster Robert Ford, as reported by Chandler Rome of The Athletic and Matt Kawahara of the Houston Chronicle. Both first baseman Jose Abreu and outfielder Chas McCormick are close to returning to action.

Brown indicated that McCormick, who has been sidelined since late April with a hamstring strain, could be back in the lineup as soon as Monday. The 29-year-old had a slow start to the season, posting a .236/.325/.278 slash line in 21 games before his injury. However, if McCormick is fully recovered, his return could significantly bolster the Astros’ offense. Last year, he was one of the team’s top offensive players, with a .273/.353/.489 slash line in 115 games. While his return is anticipated, Jake Meyers’ strong performance as the regular center fielder in McCormick’s absence could affect McCormick’s role.

Astros' Jose Abreu getting sent to A-ball after tumultuous start to season  | Fox News

Regarding Abreu, Rome reports that the veteran first baseman could rejoin the team on Friday for their series opener against the A’s in Oakland. Abreu had agreed to be optioned to the minor leagues at the end of last month after struggling with a .099/.156/.113 slash line in 77 plate appearances this season.

The 37-year-old Jose Abreu recently played in his first game action during a pair of Florida Complex League games, going 2-for-10 with a double and a walk. GM Dana Brown mentioned that Abreu is expected to participate in a few more games before rejoining the Astros, though it’s uncertain if these will be additional FCL games or if he will advance to Triple-A to prepare for big league pitching after nearly a month away.

Abreu is in the second year of a three-year, $58.5 million contract signed before the 2023 season, which has not gone as hoped. His rough start in 2024 follows a disappointing 2023 season where he slashed .237/.296/.383 in 141 games, resulting in a wRC+ of just 86, marking his first below-average offensive season.

While Abreu has been absent, Jon Singleton has taken over first base duties, posting a .222/.322/.364 slash line, slightly above league average by wRC+.

In other Astros news, right-hander Jose Urquidy threw 59 pitches in a Double-A rehab start on Saturday and is expected to make one more rehab start before being activated from the injured list, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Urquidy’s return is crucial for Houston, whose rotation has faced significant challenges this season. Justin Verlander, Cristian Javier, and Framber Valdez have all spent time on the injured list, while J.P. France, Hunter Brown, and Spencer Arrighetti have struggled with ERAs over 7.00.

Right-hander Ronel Blanco initially provided stability for the rotation but is currently serving a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s foreign substance policy, further straining Houston’s pitching staff.

Urquidy’s return could be a major boost if he delivers even average results. Previously, he posted a 3.74 ERA with a 4.35 FIP in 63 appearances through 2022. However, last season he struggled with a 5.29 ERA and a 5.38 FIP over 63 innings. Despite these challenges, he is expected to replace Arrighetti or Brown in the rotation, potentially allowing the younger pitchers to move to the bullpen or return to the minors to improve.

Astros' Ronel Blanco Suspended 10 Games Due to Foreign Substance on Glove

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