The Astros have been without outfielder Michael Brantley for most of the past week due to soreness, which according to manager Dusty Baker (as relayed by The Athletic’s Chandler Rome) is “mostly” in his surgically repaired shoulder. That’s troublesome news for Houston, as the veteran outfielder has played in just 12 games since he was shut down for shoulder surgery last summer. That Brantley’s been forced off the field by his ailing shoulder once again raises questions as the Astros gear up to defend their title as the reigning World Series champions this fall, though it’s at least somewhat encouraging that the club hasn’t yet elected to place him on the injured list.
Brantley’s absence would normally be expected to allow Yordan Alvarez to move into left field, freeing up the DH spot for a bat like rookie catcher Yainer Diaz. Things aren’t quite that simple, however, as Alvarez is dealing with injury issues of his own. The slugger told reporters, including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, recently that he hasn’t been able to play the field recently after “feeling something” in his elbow earlier in the month while swinging the bat. The incident has left the Astros acting cautiously with their superstar slugger, who has slashed .293/.410/.578 in 106 games with the club this year. While Rome notes that Alvarez was taking fly balls and throwing in the outfield before today’s game, Matt Kawahara of the Houston Chronicle relayed yesterday that Baker is still trying to avoid using Alvarez in the outfield during games.
With Brantley unavailable and Alvarez seemingly restricted to DH, the club figures to rely on the services of Jake Meyers and Mauricio Dubon in the outfield for the time being. With Kyle Tucker entrenched in right field on an everyday bases and both Meyers and Dubon grading out as solid center fielders defensively, the unfortunate injury situation with Brantley and Alvarez has nonetheless allowed the Astros to improve their outfield defense by moving Chas McCormick into left field rather than utilizing him in center.
More from the AL West…
- Angels left-hander Tyler Anderson saw his season come to an end today, as the club placed him on the 15-day IL with left knee soreness (as noted by MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger) following today’s game against the Twins. Anderson was poised to start tomorrow’s game for Anaheim, though no replacement starter has been announced to this point. Anderson’s first year with the Angels was a difficult one, as the lefty posted a 5.43 ERA and 4.93 FIP in 141 innings of work. Anderson signed a three-year, $39MM deal with the club early last offseason after posting a fantastic season in 2022 with the Dodgers.
- Sticking with the Angels, Bollinger also relays that third baseman Anthony Rendon isn’t expected to return from the injured list this season, according to club manager Phil Nevin. 2023 will go down as yet another injury-marred campaign for the veteran third baseman, who has been on the shelf since early July with a shin injury and has played just 148 games since the start of the 2021 campaign. Rendon, who slashed .236/.361/.318 with a wRC+ of 95 in 183 trips to the plate this year, has three years and roughly $116MM left on his contract with the club headed into 2024.
- The Mariners have been without catcher Tom Murphy for over a month due to a thumb fracture and was shut down from baseball activity earlier in September due to the issue. While that diagnosis put the remainder of his 2023 in doubt, it’s possible that there’s reason for optimism regarding Murphy’s ability to return this year, at least in the event that Seattle makes it to the postseason. MLB.com notes that Murphy was poised to undergo an MRI yesterday to determine whether he could resume baseball activities, though no update has been provided regarding the catcher’s status at this point. Murphy’s hit exceptionally well in a back-up role this year behind Cal Raleigh, with a .290/.335/.538 slash line in 159 trips to the plate this year. The club has recently been relying on Luis Torrens as their second catcher in Murphy’s absence.