The Astros will move forward with a four-man rotation for the remaining 18 games of the season, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Between Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, and Wade Miley, Houston’s club features perhaps the most formidable rotation in baseball, and the team will start gearing up for postseason play by trotting out what projects to be its playoff rotation. As McTaggart notes, the schedule lines up such that the fifth spot in the rotation will only come up twice more, leaving each of the Stros’ four starters to make four more appearances while manager A.J. Hinch will have to patch together two bullpen days. Meanwhile, lefty Framber Valdez will pitch out of the bullpen for the last few weeks of the year. The young lefty has toggled between the rotation and the bullpen throughout the year, and results have been decidedly better as a reliever: he’s posted a 3.90 ERA out of the bullpen, compared to an unsightly 7.07 mark as a starter.
Here are some other notes from around the baseball landscape…
- Also from Houston, injured Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, currently on the injured list experiencing back soreness, took batting practice at Minute Maid Park today, tweets McTaggart—the first time he’s done so since the injury. He also took ground balls on the field, indicating that the 24-year-old could embark on a rehab assignment in the next few days. However, it’s worth mentioning that the Astros’ two active minor-league affiliates could be eliminated from postseason play before Correa can join them, in which case the star shortstop would have to settle for live batting practice. All things considered, it’s a positive sign that one of the team’s cornerstones could return in time for the postseason.
- Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki underwent an MRI Sunday morning after feeling some discomfort in his right elbow last night, per the Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty. In a later update, Dougherty tweets that the MRI showed nothing more than inflammation in the elbow, leaving Suzuki day-to-day. Presumably, Suzuki will be good to go for the beginning of the Nats’ series in Minnesota. Suzuki missed Sunday’s series finale against the Braves and he will enjoy an off day Monday before kicking off a series against the Twins on Tuesday. Suzuki, who’s slugged 16 home runs this year, has combined with the Yan Gomes to form a solid catching duo for the playoff-hopeful Nationals. It seems that the Nationals got the best possible news regarding Suzuki’s elbow, which shouldn’t necessitate an extended absence for the veteran.
- The chances of Mariners star outfielder Mitch Haniger returning this season look to be fading, tweets Greg Johns of MLB.com. The 28-year-old received a second opinion on his strained lower back, which set back his recovery from a ruptured testicle suffered earlier this year. Those injuries have limited the All-Star to just 63 games this year, a number that likely won’t budge after that second opinion yielded no new information. It seems that at this point, there would need to be a unexpected breakthrough in order for Haniger to see the field again in 2019.
- Twins center fielder Byron Buxton, who hasn’t made a plate appearance since August 1 thanks to a left shoulder injury, may not hit again this season, manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters including Dan Hayes of the Athletic. The oft-injured outfielder is set to travel to California to visit a shoulder specialist. While we’ll have to wait and see what comes of that, Buxton may be henceforth limited to a role as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive substitute. It’s an unfortunate development given Buxton’s progress as a hitter: in 2019, he’s enjoyed the best offensive season of his career, slashing .262/.314/.513 with ten home runs in just 87 games.