The Astros are supposed to take on the Mariners at home on July 24th to open up the 2020 season. As we have seen over the past couple weeks of Summer Camp, MLB has its hands full trying to keep pace with the testing needs for baseball. Yesterday, James Click announced that the Astros will play two exhibition games at Kauffman Stadium before opening the season. This will be the first time they will travel as a team since returning from the Covid-19 shutdown.
But, that wasn’t the biggest news of the day. Two key players from the 2020 season were added to the 10-day IL. With ten days before the season starting, Click said reigning AL Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez and World Series hero Jose Urquidy were added to the IL. Why? Because the Astros said so!
That’s really all they can tell us. Last week, Dusty Baker said that Alvarez and Urquidy had a condition that’s preventing them from participating at Summer Camp. A condition, can it get any vaguer than that. Well, welcome to the new normal, at least for the 2020 season. Unless a player gives the team permission to reveal that they have tested positive for Coronavirus, they have to keep that information private.
Where does that leave us fans?
Why speculation of course! Russell Westbrook just announced that he has tested positive. When the NBA season restarts, at least fans will know why he’s not in the NBA bubble. James Harden, on the other hand, has yet to report. Wonder what condition he is suffering from?
This is the new normal. Click said yesterday that the team with the fewest COVID-19 cases will likely win. I’m sure there is a little luck involved, but according to the Sports Betting Dime, the Astros are the third favored team to win the 2020 World Series. Would losing one of your starting pitchers or DH hurt those odds? Maybe, but every team will deal with this.
Will Alvarez be ready for opening day? According to Brian McTaggart, Click said “we’re hoping but obviously it’s difficult to say.” Alvarez, after hitting 27 homers in 313 at-bats in 2019, was supposed to help anchor the batting order. Hopefully, he will be able to get ready for the season. As a DH, it will probably be easier to ready on the fly later.
For Urquidy though, missing this time will potentially cost him a chance at being a starter for the 2020 season. Yes, they could stretch him out, but we don’t know what condition his condition is in. Sorry for the Big Lebowski moment there. Maybe you remember it more from Kenny Rogers. Either way, Urquidy is a question mark. So is Joe Smith, but at least we know he is hesitant to play this season.
Next man up?
These injuries could open up a spot for Kyle Tucker and Josh Reddick to both be on the field. Tucker could be the DH with Abraham Toro, Aledmys Diaz, and others rotating through. This team is better with Alvarez and his 3.7 WAR from last year’s 87 games played in the lineup. However, getting Tucker semi-everyday playing time will help him get comfortable in the big leagues.
As far as the rotation, it’s good that Josh James looks to be returning from the birth of his daughter. Framber Valdez could be given the first look if Urquidy is not fully stretched out or ready. Cristian Javier and Valdez both pitched in yesterday’s split-squad game. Maybe others like Austin Pruit could get a shot, but time is running out. No one will be fully stretched out, that’s why there will be an expanded roster to start the season.
There will be so many interesting plot twists this year. All you can do is watch the games, shrug off the COVID-19 IL stints, and hope for postseason play. Some may wonder if they will play 60-games. Shrugging emoji!