The injuries keep piling up for the first-place Houston Astros. It’s too early to panic, but they could be on the verge of reaching a potential tipping point after losing three key components of their formidable everyday lineup over the past few weeks. Center fielder George Springer, who appeared to be on the verge of putting together a career-year, suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain over the weekend and superstar second baseman Jose Altuve has been out since May 11 with a left hamstring injury and soreness in his surgically-repaired right knee during his rehab assignment. The latest addition to the Astros’ ever-expanding list of sidelined stalwarts is shortstop Carlos Correa, who was placed on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday after sustaining a fractured rib during an in-home massage earlier this week. Seriously. It's one of the most bizarre injuries of the last decade or so, but the ramifications, for the Astros and fantasy owners alike are significant. The 24-year-old slugger, who is hitting .295/.360/.547 with 11 homers and 35 RBI across 214 plate appearances this season, is expected to be sidelined for the next 4-to-6 weeks.
It’s a potentially devastating blow for the Astros’ offense, but Correa should be able to return by late-June or early-July at the latest. In the meantime, third baseman Alex Bregman, who leads the majors with 13 homers this month, could potentially slide over to fill-in temporarily at shortstop. Rookie infielders Jack Mayfield and Myles Straw, who were both called up from Triple-A Round Rock this week, will likely step into everyday roles as well since veteran utility specialist Aledmys Diaz remains sidelined with a hamstring injury as well. From a pure fantasy perspective, the newfound depth at the shortstop position cushions the blow of losing a key contributor like Correa for an extended period. Simply put, the resurrection of established veterans, most notably Jonathan Villar and Elvis Andrus, in tandem with an influx of talented youngsters, like Adalberto Mondesi, Jorge Polanco, Paul DeJong and Tim Anderson, who have blossomed into upper-echelon options at the position, means that there is no longer a shortage of quality replacement-level options in shallow formats. The metaphorical rising tide lifts all boats at the position, and while it may seem impossible to replace Correa’s production, there should be plenty of quality options out there to fill the void.
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Perhaps the most unlikely (and intriguing) standout performance from Wednesday’s slate belonged to Angels’ outfielder Cesar Puello, who went 3-for-6 with a home run and four RBI to propel Los Angeles to an eventual comeback win over the Athletics in extra-innings. The 28-year-old had not appeared in the major leagues since 2017, but made an immediate impact in his season debut, opening up the scoring with a two-run single in the first inning. He also singled in the fifth and capped off his three-hit effort by launching a majestic, 416-foot two-run homer to left-center field off A’s reliever Yusmeiro Petit in the seventh. Granted, it was only one game, but it was certainly an electrifying performance, especially since he posted an impressive .299/.434/.507 triple-slash line with seven home runs and two stolen bases in 42 games at Triple-A Salt Lake before his promotion. Barring an injury, there isn’t a clear path to everyday playing time in the Angels’ outfield right now. However, it’s clear that Puello has figured something out at the plate and deserves to be on the fantasy radar in deeper formats. At the very least, he's worthy of a speculative pickup in extremely deep mixed leagues and AL-Only formats.
The other fantasy storyline to monitor out of Los Angeles revolves around the job security of veteran stopper Hansel Robles, who imploded in the ninth inning Wednesday, allowing two runs on three hits in an ugly blown save against the Athletics. The 28-year-old righty has now blown two of his last three save chances and could be on the verge of losing future opportunities unless he turns things around. He was tasked with preserving a two-run lead and promptly surrendered a leadoff homer to Mark Canha before serving up back-to-back hits to Jurickson Profar, who eventually scored the tying run on a Josh Phegley sacrifice fly later in the frame, and Ramon Laureano. If the Angels’ elect to go in a different direction, it would likely be to hand the full-time closing duties to 26-year-old righty Ty Buttrey, who owns a microscopic 1.30 ERA and 35/7 K/BB ratio across 25 appearances this season.
AL Quick Hits: Khris Davis (oblique) has begun hitting soft toss. … George Springer (hamstring) and Aledmys Diaz (hamstring) were able to run on the field prior to Wednesday's game against the Cubs. … Red Sox placed Mitch Moreland on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to May 26, with a lower back strain. … Joey Gallo (wrist) was held out of the Rangers’ lineup on Wednesday. … Mike Trout (foot) was absent from the Angels’ lineup on Wednesday. … Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela went deep in the Yankees’ shutout win over the Padres. … James Paxton recorded seven strikeouts over four no-hit innings in his first start since May 3. … Carlos Santana went 3-for-4 with a home run, five RBI and four runs scored in the Indians’ win over the Red Sox. … Brad Hand notched his 15th save in that one. … Andrew Benintendi went 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI in the loss. … Tommy Pham went 3-for-5 with a run scored in the Rays’ victory over the Blue Jays in extra innings. … Lourdes Gurriel went 2-for-6 with a two-run homer in the losing effort. … Shane Greene picked up his 18th save in the Tigers’ win over the Orioles. … John Means whiffed seven batters over six innings of one-run ball in that contest. … Mallex Smith swiped his 13th base of the season in the Mariners’ loss to the Rangers. … Mariners placed J.P. Crawford on the 10-day injured with a left ankle sprain. … Sean Manaea (shoulder) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday. … Chris Davis (hip) expects to be activated from the injured list as soon as he is eligible. … Dee Gordon (wrist) is expected to begin baseball activities on Thursday.
NL Quick Hits: Eugenio Suarez told reporters that x-rays on his left hand came back negative after he left Wednesday's contest against the Pirates. … Reds manager David Bell expects Joey Votto (hamstring) to return to the lineup on Friday. … Jordan Lyles (hamstring) expects to make his start on Sunday against the Brewers. … Nick Pivetta will make another start on Sunday against the Dodgers. … Tyler Beede will start for the Giants on Thursday against the Marlins. … Chris Paddack was tagged for four runs on six hits over five innings in the Padres’ loss to the Yankees. … Edwin Diaz melted down in spectacular fashion, surrendering four runs on five hits in an ugly blown save against the Dodgers. … Josh Bell went 3-for-5 with his 18th round-tripper and three RBI to power the Pirates past the Reds. … Nick Senzel clobbered his fourth long ball in the loss. … Trea Turner went 3-for-6 with a stolen base and Juan Soto finished 2-for-4 with a homer, two walks and four runs scored in the Nationals’ lopsided win over the Braves. … Kevin Gausman was blasted for eight runs in one-plus innings in the loss. … Bryce Harper went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI to propel the Phillies to a blowout win over the Cardinals. … Aaron Nola struck out eight batters over seven innings to pick up the win in that contest. … Pete Alonso went 3-for-4 with a pair of two-run homers in the Mets’ loss to the Dodgers. … Kyle Hendricks allowed one run over eight innings in the Cubs’ win over the Astros … Kyle Schwarber walloped his 10th homer in that contest. … Scott Oberg notched his first save with a hitless ninth inning for the Rockies in their win over the Diamondbacks. … Ildemaro Vargas reached five times, going 2-for-2 with three walks, in the loss. … Jorge Alfaro went 4-for-4 with a run scored in the Marlins’ narrow victory over the Giants. … Wade Davis (oblique) was able to throw again on Wednesday. … Jeff McNeil (hamstring) has resumed baseball activities. … Trevor Williams (side) has played catch from 105 feet and thrown from the slope of a mound. … Austin Barnes (groin) has resumed working out. … Jeremy Hellickson has been shut down from throwing due to shoulder soreness. … Dinelson Lamet (elbow) allowed three runs over 2 2/3 innings with five strikeouts on Wednesday in a rehab start for High-A Lake Elsinore. … Alex Reyes (finger) is likely to make a rehab start for Triple-A Memphis on Sunday.