Any fan who may not have been playing close attention to their Houston Astros was probably dealt a little bit of a surprise when they decided to tune into a recent game.
Something along the lines of, “Who are these guys,” was probably the reaction.
Yes, with injuries to George Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Aledmys Diaz and Max Stassi, the Astros’ recent starting lineups have more closely resembled some you might have seen from the Round Rock Express — the Astros’ AAA minor league affiliate.
Indeed, players who started their seasons with the Express, like Derek Fisher, Garrett Stubbs, Jack Mayfield and Myles Straw, are now all seeing regular playing time. Others who were in Round Rock in recent years like Tony Kemp, Tyler White and Jake Marisnick are having to step up into larger roles on the Astros due to the slew of injuries.
Normally, when this many key players are on the shelf and this many players with little to no Major League experience are filling their shoes, it would spell doom for even the most successful team. But, amazingly, the Astros have yet to miss a beat.
The Astros are still tied for most wins in the American League with an impressive 40-20 record, and are 5-1 — including this weekend’s three-game sweep of division rival Oakland — in the six games since Correa became to most recent Astros player to be knocked out with an injury.
Helping the wounded Astros’ cause has been that the few healthy lineup regulars — Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel and Robinson Chirinos — have continued to play at a high level at a time where the team definitely couldn’t afford a hitting slump from any one of them. The Astros starting and relief pitching has also mostly been solid during this recent stretch.
The Astros are also fortunate to be approaching a seemingly soft part of their schedule. The team continues its west coast road trip with a four-game series against the slumping Seattle Mariners before returning home for a three-game weekend series against the MLB-worst Baltimore Orioles.
With the only one of the injured Astros facing a lengthy injury rehabilitation process being Correa and his massage-induced broken rib (the latest in a long history of weird baseball injuries), hopefully by this time next week, the Astros’ injured list is a little less crowded.