One of the premier players in baseball, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, will make his return Sunday against the Mets, per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Correa hasn’t played since tearing a thumb ligament on July 17, before which the 22-year-old put himself in American League MVP consideration by hitting an excellent .320/.400/.566 with 20 home runs and posting 4.1 fWAR in 375 plate appearances. While Houston was a juggernaut prior to Correa’s injury, it went backward during his absence. The team jumped out to a 62-31 start with Correa in the fold, but it went just 20-22 when he was on the shelf. Still, the Astros hold an insurmountable 12.5-game lead in the AL West and should have a realistic World Series shot now that their best player is back.
Elsewhere around the AL…
- Although the Tigers went into a full rebuild this week when they traded Justin Verlander and Justin Upton, 35-year-old second baseman Ian Kinsler wouldn’t be averse to staying in Detroit. “I have no problem being part of a rebuilding team if that’s what the Tigers wish. I don’t know what they wish,” Kinsler told Evan Woodbery of MLive.com and other reporters Saturday. “I don’t know if they want me a part of it or if they don’t want me a part of it right now. If they do want me a part of it, I’m fine with that. I have no problem trying to pass my experience along as best I can to the younger players and help anyway that I can.” Kinsler’s having a down 2017 (.236/.316/.387 in 510 plate appearances), but the Tigers fielded an offer for him last month, and he’s likely to draw offseason interest as an affordable player entering the final year of his contract ($10MM club option). While Kinsler has a 10-team no-trade clause, he suggested his fate mostly lies in general manager Al Avila’s hands.
- Angels right-hander Garrett Richards will make his long-awaited return to their rotation Tuesday against Oakland, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register was among those to report. Richards hasn’t started since April 5, his lone outing of the year, on account of biceps nerve irritation. The 29-year-old will be on a 50-pitch limit in his upcoming start and will gradually increase the count toward 100 by the end of the regular season, Fletcher relays. Both Richards and manager Mike Scioscia are confident the front-end starter is healthy and will fare nicely when he comes back, even though injuries have limited him to 39 1/3 innings since 2016.
- The Rays sent representatives to Japan to watch Nippon Ham Fighters ace Shohei Otani’s start last week, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Along with the Rays and the Yankees, there were around a dozen other teams in attendance to watch Otani, whose fastball hit 100 mph, Buster Olney of ESPN reports. The changes in the collective bargaining agreement could theoretically give low-payroll teams like Tampa Bay a better chance to land the two-way phenom, though the Rays already spent $3.825MM of their available international money ($5.25MM) on Dominican shortstop Wander Franco on July 2.