The Astros’ long list of injured pitchers will get a bit shorter today, as Jose Urquidy and Blake Taylor have both been activated from the 10-day injured list. Urquidy will get the start in today’s game against the Red Sox. Right-handers Andre Scrubb and Ralph Garza were optioned to Triple-A to make room for Urquidy and Taylor on the active roster.
Urquidy hit the IL on May 16 due to right shoulder discomfort, though that potentially ominous-sounding diagnosis wasn’t considered too serious. The right-hander will indeed return in pretty short order, and he’ll look to continue what has thus far been a solid 2021 season. Urquidy has a 3.22 ERA and a very strong 5.1% walk rate over 44 2/3 innings, though advanced metrics (such as a 4.58 SIERA) haven’t been as impressed with his work. Urquidy has both a low strikeout rate (18.6%) and grounder rate (28.5%), and he has been relying on a lot of soft contact and some batted-ball luck (.242 BABIP) to retire batters.
Taylor has been out of action since suffering a right ankle sprain on April 17, and he has been on a Triple-A rehab assignment since last week. Taylor made his MLB debut last season, and he has a 3.12 ERA, 18.4% strikeout rate, and 12.3% walk rate over 26 total innings in the big leagues. With Kent Emanuel still on the IL, Brooks Raley has been the only other left-hander in Houston’s bullpen, so Taylor’s return will add some depth in that area.
The lineup will continue to be shorthanded, however, as manager Dusty Baker told reporters (including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart and The Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome) that neither Yuli Gurriel or Yordan Alvarez are available for today’s game, though both are “close” to returning. Alvarez appears to be the nearest of the two, though Baker said he “nixed” the idea of Alvarez in the lineup in order to give the young slugger another day of recovery.
This will make it five games missed for Alvarez due to a wrist problem, while Gurriel is now on track to miss his third game due to inflammation in his left middle finger. Baker did say Gurriel would return at some point during Houston’s four-game series with the Red Sox that begins today.
“It’s a situation where they’re not hurt badly enough where you can put them on ten days and lose them, so you’d rather wait two or three days extra and not lose them for ten,” Baker said.
The Astros still scored 15 runs in the two games without Gurriel and Alvarez in the lineup, though naturally the team would like to have two of its best hitters back as soon as possible. Both players have hit seven home runs this season, with Gurriel hitting .309/.380/.511 in 205 PA and Alvarez hitting .310/.343/.525 over 169 PA.
Baker also told McTaggart and company that he is hopeful Lance McCullers Jr. can be back in the rotation by the “middle of June.” McCullers was placed on the 10-day IL on May 26 due to right shoulder soreness but, like Urquidy, the issue as thought to be pretty minor. McCullers is playing catch in the outfield today, Baker said. Over 51 2/3 innings this season, McCullers has a 2.96 ERA/4.02 SIERA, despite allowing a lot of hard contact.