HomeTrending MLB NewsAstros place starting pitcher on IL, recall Jose Abreu

Astros place starting pitcher on IL, recall Jose Abreu

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The Astros made a few transactions before Monday’s series opener in Seattle. Houston placed starter Cristian Javier on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to May 24, with forearm discomfort. They also recalled José Abreu and reliever Alex Speas from Triple-A Sugar Land, optioning out Joey Loperfido to clear an additional roster spot.

Javier heads to the IL for the second time this season. The right-hander missed a couple of weeks between April and May with neck soreness. Forearm discomfort is naturally a more concerning development, but there’s no indication the team believes it to be a serious issue at the moment. It’s nevertheless a frustrating setback for Javier, who has been limited to seven starts this year after avoiding the IL between 2020-23.

Around the injuries, Javier has gotten off to a middling start. He has a reasonable 3.89 ERA over 34 2/3 innings, yet he’s carrying an 18% strikeout rate that would easily be a personal worst. Javier has also walked nearly 13% of opposing hitters and is averaging only 91.7 MPH on his fastball, the softest velocity of his career.

Even a diminished version of Javier has played an important role in a Houston rotation that has battled numerous injuries. He rejoins Lance McCullers Jr., Luis Garcia and José Urquidy on the IL. Urquidy was expected to make his return from forearm discomfort in the coming weeks, but he felt renewed soreness during a rehab start last Friday.

Houston has tried to lean on a six-man rotation to navigate an ongoing stretch of 29 games in 30 days. That hasn’t really worked as planned, as Ronel Blanco served a 10-game foreign substance suspension before Javier’s injury. Houston has a five-man starting staff of Framber Valdez, Justin Verlander, Blanco, Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti at the moment. Recently signed lefty Eric Lauer is at Sugar Land as an experienced non-roster depth option.

Abreu is back on the MLB roster after spending nearly a month in the minors. The former MVP is in the lineup at first base Monday, hitting eighth against Seattle right-hander Bryce Miller. Abreu has worked to rediscover his timing after hitting .099/.156/.113 over his first 77 big league plate appearances this season. Lefty-swinging Jon Singleton has been Houston’s primary first baseman since Abreu was optioned; Singleton is at designated hitter Monday.

How Abreu performs over the next two months could be a key storyline as the front office considers its deadline approach. Houston has played their way back to the fringe of the playoff picture after an atrocious start to the season. They’re 24-29, sitting in third place in the AL West at three and a half games behind Seattle. If they’re in contention by late July, the Astros would certainly try to bolster a veteran roster that has won at least one playoff round in seven straight seasons. First base would be an obvious target area unless Abreu authors a remarkable turnaround in the coming weeks.

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