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Astros Bring Springer and McHugh Back Up

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They send down two pitchers to Triple-A

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros are getting some reinforcements after snapping a seven-game losing streak on Sunday. With all the injuries, the Astros were playing above their head and just hit a rough patch. It was good to see Jose Altuve return to the lineup and have an impact on Sunday. Meanwhile, George Springer and Collin McHugh were beginning their rehab assignment. It was expected that they would return today, which came to fruition earlier today when I was prepping for the Locked On Astros Podcast.

The narrative over the past 36 hours was who would be sent down. On Talking Stros on Sunday, Brandon and I both speculated that Reymin Guduan and Myles Straw were the likely candidates. However, after thinking about it, Straw is the backup shortstop at the moment with Carlos Correa on the IL. Jack Mayfield was getting some starts there, but his offense was not up to par.

If Straw were to have gone done, Yuli Gurriel would have likely been the back shortstop. Tyler White has played a little there, but I’m not sure the Astros would trust him playing there. They are not comfortable with Yordan Alvarez at first base, so he will not play there. Gurriel last played shortstop on September 26, 2018. He did not have any errors in that game and gave AJ Hinch the idea that he could be a potential utility player in the infield.

Who went down?

With that in mind, the Astros sent Rogelio Armenteros down to activate Springer and McHugh according to Chandler Rome. Armenteros only appeared in two games but pitched five innings while striking out six batters. His ERA will sit at 3.60 until he returns, but there was not a need for 13 pitchers at the moment with the off-day yesterday and two off days next week. Gerrit Cole will also get two starts this week before the two off days.

Guduan was on the bubble, despite two great games in New York, he has an 11.81 ERA this year. In three games, he gave up seven earned runs on four walks and three homers. The Astros hope that he will eventually become the left-handed reliever in the bullpen, but he has some control issues to deal with first. Now, the heart and soul of the team is returning.

Not everyone can leadoff!

During Springer’s absence, the Astros have struggled to find a replacement leadoff hitter. We have seen Derek Fisher, Myles Straw, Josh Reddick, Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve. As of a few days ago, Chandler Rome wrote that “since May 25, the day George Springer went on the IL, the Astros have slashed .167/.268/.324 in the leadoff spot.” After Altuve hit a double and homer on Sunday, that probably increased a little. It shows how you can’t replace Springer.

Before his injury, Springer was in the MVP discussion batting .308 with 17 homers and 43 RBI. His WAR (via ESPN) is still decent at 2.5, but players like Mike Trout (5.2) and Bregman (3.7) have outpaced him to this point. Things can change and make sure you vote for Springer in tomorrow’s All-Star starters vote. While Altuve struggled this year, Springer and others have carried the team. In his rehab stint, Springer batted .400 with two homers and five RBI.

McHugh got started on a roll in 2019, but the league caught up to him with a 3-4 record and a 6.04 ERA with 48 strikeouts for 44 ⅔ innings. During his rehab stint, he pitched three ⅔ innings with five strikeouts. McHugh was moving to the bullpen when the elbow discomfort arose. Hopefully, those days are behind him. Welcome back guys and let’s get some wins.