Let's discuss 4 Houston Astros that must step up in Jose Altuve's absence
After legging out an infield single In Monday night’s game against the Angels, Astros’ second baseman Jose Altuve strained his left hamstring and was forced to leave in the 8th inning.
The 7x All-Star was retroactively placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday as a result.
"We didn't think he'd be ready to go in a week, and it's a 10-day IL, and we'll reevaluate it from there," Astros manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday
Altuve was off to a slow start (6-36) to begin the season, and spending some time off the field could be good for him in the long run.
Temporarily replacing one of the best players in baseball is no easy feat, but can be possible if certain players step up.
From utility player to starter
Aledmys Diaz is the obvious choice to replace Altuve at second base for now. He entered the game for the 31-year-old Monday night and has played well throughout his Astros career.
Diaz has been a reliable defensive asset to this team, with the ability to play at all four infield positions and the outfield as well.
Although he is only hitting .154 to start off 2022, Diaz has proven to be a dependable bat in Baker’s lineup once he gets going.
Pena shows power and potential
One of the best players for the Astros this season has been the rookie phenom Jeremy Pena. Through his first 11 games, Houston’s new shortstop is hitting .308/.364/.590. and only Chas McCormick has a higher batting average.
Over the last two games, Pena has been given the opportunity to leadoff, and he seems to fit in well.
At this point, it may be a lot to ask of a rookie, but the 24-year-old seems to be up to the challenge, as his performance at the plate would indicate.
Pena showcased he has some pop in his bat as well, and is behind only Yordan Alvarez for the team lead in homers.
The rookie is hitting in a good spot with Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Alvarez backing him up in the lineup and could be dangerous to any opposing pitching staff.
If Pena can continue to put up good numbers at the leadoff spot, the Astros won’t have to worry about losing production at the top of their lineup while Altuve is out.
Goodrum gets the green light.
At first glance, Niko Goodrum may seem like an odd choice to put here, but he is a vital part of this Astros roster.
Diaz could play second base for the majority of the time during Altuve’s absence, thus moving Goodrun into the utility role.
The 30-year-old has already played at first base, second base and designated hitter this season, and spent time at shortstop and in the outfield last year for the Detroit Tigers.
Baker said that both Goodrum and Diaz would split time at second base, but it can be presumed Diaz will get more starts as he is more reliable at the plate.
Goodrum can be an above average defender, and will provide much needed depth for the Astros during this time.
JJ the wildcard
One bonus player who could make an impact is the recently promoted infielder/outfielder JJ Matijevic.
The 26-year-old was called up on Wednesday in response to Altuve heading to the 10-day IL.
He hit .310 with four homers and 10 RBIs for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys this season.
Matijevic could get an opportunity to give some guys days off and add a little bit more depth to this already stacked Astros lineup.
Altuve could return as soon as Friday, April 29th in Toronto. Until then, these players and others could give the Astros a boost during the All-Star second basemen’s absence.