A litany of health problems have slowed the Astros, who have started 2020 an even 6-6 after winning the American League a year ago. Slugger and 2019 AL Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez is among the team’s most important players on the shelf, likely owing to a positive coronavirus test. Alvarez is taking batting practice and running, but manager Dusty Baker suggested a return is not imminent.
“The cavalry is a ways off,” Baker said of Alvarez and right-hander Jose Urquidy, who has also been on the IL for an undisclosed reason early this year, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Urquidy just began throwing off a mound.
The 23-year-old Alvarez was a critical piece of the puzzle for the Astros last season, when he slashed .313/.412/.655 with 27 home runs in 369 plate appearances. There’s obviously no realistic way to replace that type of production.
Urquidy, 25, didn’t star as a rookie last year, but he was impressive in his own right, as he amassed 41 innings of 3.95 ERA/3.68 FIP ball with 8.78 K/9 and 1.54 BB/9. The Astros, who are facing several injuries in their pitching staff, will welcome similar numbers this year if Urquidy is able to pitch.
Austin Pruitt is also among the wounded in Houston, and the club decided to transfer the righty to the 45-day IL because of an elbow ailment on Friday, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets. The move opened up space for just-acquired righty Chase De Jong in their 60-man player pool. Pruitt still hasn’t pitched for the Astros, who added him in an offseason trade with the Rays, and it remains very much in question whether he’ll take the mound at all this season.