How returning Houston Astros players impact trade, competitive dynamics

STONE COLD 'STROS

How returning Houston Astros players impact trade, competitive dynamics
Help is on the way.But not right away. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are officially back on track, climbing two games over .500 after beating the Blue Jays in the series opener on Monday. It's been impressive to see the team go on a run with several key players out of the mix due to injury.

And by the looks of how things currently stand, it doesn't appear any reinforcements will be arriving before the All-Star break. Astros manager Joe Espada told the flagship station on Tuesday that the club is going to be cautious with Kyle Tucker and Justin Verlander.

Tucker is expected to start running soon, and Verlander is already soft tossing from sixty feet. But based on Espada's comments, we shouldn't expect Tucker and JV back before the break. They're hoping that when they do return, they'll be fully ready to play the rest of the season without any “hiccups.”

With Tucker out for likely another two weeks, we should get to see more from Jake Meyers, Chas McCormick, Trey Cabbage, and Joey Loperfido. All of which have had some big moments in recent days.

Espada also said Luis Garcia is scheduled to make a two inning start on Thursday with the Double A club. Lance McCullers could also be ready to return in early August (fingers crossed).

Fortunately for the Astros, Shawn Dubin pitched well in his spot start in New York. Espada told the flagship that Dubin has a good shot at making another start, depending on the state of the bullpen heading into the Twins game on Friday.

It was once believed Houston would have to look outside the organization for pitching help, and they still might. But don't expect a move to happen anytime soon. The Astros depth is holding up, so other teams don't hold all the leverage on GM Dana Brown if he's interested in making a deal.

Speaking of which, the Astros have been rumored to have interest in Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

And while we know Jim Crane loves to make a splash, it's hard to believe he would agree to exceeding the second tax threshold to secure the Blue Jays slugger.

Between Mauricio Dubon, Jon Singleton, and Joey Loperfido, first base doesn't feel like a priority. In the end, the Astros may view a trade as unnecessary with the returns of Verlander, Tucker, Garcia, Jake Bloss, and McCullers. Which could mean a very quiet trade deadline for Houston.

Considering the lack of depth in the farm system, this could be very beneficial in the big picture.

Finally, when looking at the schedule leading up to the All Star break, there are some great opportunities for the 'Stros. They can gain ground on the Twins in the Wild Card race, and push the Rangers further down the standings in the final series before the break.

And let's not forget the series with the division-leading Mariners coming out of the break.

Don't miss the video above as we break it all down!

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and Charlie Pallilo discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And be on the lookout for bonus episodes on Thursdays!

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Mariners defeat Astros, 6-4. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez hit for the cycle against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, becoming the 10th player in Houston history to accomplish the feat.

Alvarez singled in the first inning, hit his 20th homer of the season off Mariners starter Bryan Woo in the fourth, added a run-scoring triple to center field in the sixth off Taylor Saucedo and completed the cycle with a double down the right field line in the eighth against Gregory Santos.

Alvarez finished 4 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the Astros' 6-4 loss to Seattle.

Asked if he'd ever hit for a cycle in his baseball life, Alvarez said, “Not even in Playstation.”

“I’m very excited,” Alvarez said. “I felt a little bit of pressure there, but I knew I needed a double and when I hit the ball I said, ‘There it is.”

The 27-year-old Alvarez had the second cycle in the history of T-Mobile Park, after Miguel Tejada's on September 29, 2001.

The triple, the sixth of Alvarez's career, came on a fly ball to deep center field. Julio Rodríguez jumped for the ball against the wall, but dropped the catch and sprained his right ankle on the play. The ball rolled toward the infield before left fielder Dylan Moore grabbed it as Alvarez hustled into third.

“It was a confusing play,” Alvarez said. "When I hit the ball, I thought it was going to carry a little bit more, and then I saw him jump at the wall and make the catch, and then I saw him hit the wall and the ball drops and he drops. I just knew I needed to continue running there.”

Before Sunday, the most recent cycle by a member of the Astros came on August 28, 2023, by Jose Altuve against Boston.

Luke Raley hit a three-run homer, Bryan Woo pitched 5 2/3 solid innings and the Seattle Mariners overcame an injury to Julio Rodríguez to beat the Houston Astros 6-4 on Sunday.

The win snapped a five-game losing streak and put the Mariners into a tie with Houston for the AL West Division lead.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHPs Justin Verlander (neck discomfort) and Luis Garcia (Tommy John surgery) both felt good after throwing bullpens on Saturday, and Espada said the plan is for both to throw again sometime in the next couple of days.

ROSTER MOVE

The Mariners traded RHP Mike Baumann to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday for cash considerations.

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP Spencer Arrighetti (4-7, 5.63 ERA) will pitch Monday in Houston’s series opener at Oakland.

Mariners: RHP Bryce Miller (7-7, 3.63 ERA) will start Monday against Angels lefty Tyler Anderson. Miller has a 4.46 ERA in his past seven starts, with 10 walks and 27 strikeouts.

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