The Astros are set to activate outfielder George Springer and right-hander Collin McHugh from the injured list, per the team’s transactions log at MLB.com. Lefty Reymin Guduan and righty Rogelio Armenteros will be optioned to Triple-A to open spots on the active roster.
Springer will return to the ’Stros after missing exactly one month due to a hamstring injury. While Springer’s absence surely wasn’t the sole factor — Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa had IL stints overlap with Springer’s time on the IL — Houston posted a 14-12 record while he was sidelined. That’s a far cry from the 35-18 pace to which they’d played prior to his injury, but the club still holds a comfortable six-game lead over the surprising Rangers in the American League West. With Springer’s return, the team’s lineup is near full strength, as well; Altuve was reinstated last week, leaving Correa as the lone injured regular.
The 29-year-old Springer was in the midst of his finest offensive campaign at the time of his injury. Despite tallying just 216 plate appearances on the season, his 17 home runs are just five shy of last year’s season-long total. Springer’s walk rate, average exit velocity, hard-hit rate and barrel rate have all soared in 2019, and the resulting .308/.389/.643 batting line checks in at about 70 percent better than the league-average hitter (per OPS+ and wRC+).
It was a different story for the 32-year-old McHugh, who struggled tremendously in his return to the Houston rotation in 2019. Through eight starts, McHugh was tagged for 30 runs in 41 innings — albeit with 10 of them coming in one road meltdown against the Rangers. Still, the Houston organization apparently deemed McHugh better suited for a relief role, as the Astros moved him to the bullpen in early May.
There’s no indication that McHugh will be returning to the Astros’ rotation now that he’s returned from a minor elbow issue. Framber Valdez has turned in a pair of strong outings (against weak Blue Jays and Orioles lineups) and one ugly one (at Yankee Stadium) since assuming the fifth spot in the rotation. It’s certainly possible that McHugh will eventually get another look, but he was also dominant in a multi-inning relief role last season (1.99 ERA, 11.7 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 in 72 1/3 innings). Which role McHugh occupies will be of particular interest, as he’s set to become a free agent for the first time this winter and his role could well impact his offseason earning power.