Entering play on Saturday, the Astros held a 34-18 record, already sitting a full seven games ahead of the Rangers in the race for the division title in the American League West. A big reason for their early-season success has been early American League MVP candidate George Springer.
The 29-year-old outfielder is slashing a mighty .308/.389/.643 while leading the American League in both home runs (17) and RBI (43). He has also scored 41 runs (second best in the league) while swiping four bases (in five attempts). He also led the league in total bases (119). That was despite missing his previous four games this week due to lower back stiffness.
Springer made his return to the Astros' starting lineup for Friday's showdown against the Red Sox, but things didn't go as smoothly as anticipated. He suffered a left hamstring strain while attempting to make a sliding catch in foul territory on a ball hit by Xander Bogaerts in the eighth inning. Springer immediately grabbed for his hamstring afterwards and removed himself from the game.
Astros' manager A.J. Hinch wasn't optimistic after the game, indicating that Springer was likely heading for the injured list and that he wasn't looking forward to hearing the diagnosis on his star outfielder. On Saturday, Springer was officially placed on the injured list, though there's still no word on the severity of the injury or how much time he may stand to miss.
This is obviously a tremendous blow to fantasy owners who have enjoyed Springer's massive five-category contributions thus far.
There was some lingering optimism among the non-Springer owners in the fantasy community that Springer's absence would lead to the Astros finally promoting top prospect Yordan Alvarez from Triple-A Round Rock. The 21-year-old Cuban sensation has been terrorizing opposing pitchers in the Pacific Coast League, slashing a ridiculous .374/.460/.816 with 19 homers and 57 RBI in his first 43 games.
Surely though, if they were somehow not ready to promote Alvarez, then we would see highly-touted outfielder Kyle Tucker get another chance to prove his worth at the big league level, right? Unfortunately, that's not the case either. The Astros announced Saturday when placing Springer on the injured list, that the corresponding move was to recall Derek Fisher from Triple-A.
Now don't get me wrong, Fisher is a decent player. The 25-year-old is also having a nice season at Round Rock, slashing .314/.379/.555 with eight homers, 24 RBI and six stolen bases. He just isn't the type of impact addition that may have been able to offset some of the heavy losses that Springer owners will likely incur over the next few weeks
If attempting to read between the lines, perhaps the move to add Fisher is a sign that the Astros don't believe Springer will be sidelined for an extended period of time. If they thought that he would be out for an extended period -- say 4-to-6 weeks -- it's much harder to justify them not adding Alvarez (or at least Tucker) to bolster the offense. If they believe that Springer is only going to miss two weeks of action, the Fisher move is much easier to understand.
Astros' general manager Jeff Luhnow seemed to confirm that thinking late in the afternoon on Saturday, when he announced that Springer was dealing with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. While he's still going to spend more than the minimum 10 days on the injured list, Luhnow confirmed that the doctors were encouraged by their findings and observations.
Conservatively, it looks like Springer should be out until mid-June at the earliest.
Corbin Shuts Out Marlins
Patrick Corbin delivered his finest start as a member of the Nationals on Saturday, scattering just four hits and a walk over nine shutout innings, picking up his second career shutout.
The left-hander struck out five in the impressive outing, needing just 116 pitches (70 strikes) to record 27 outs.
He has certainly lived up to the massive expectations placed on him when the Nationals signed him to a massive six-year, $140 million contract in the offseason. He now sits at 5-2 on the season with a stellar 2.85 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 81/22 K/BB ratio across 72 ⅔ innings.
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200 for Arenado
Just one night after teammate Trevor Story became the fastest shortstop in MLB history to reach 100 home runs for his career, Nolan Arenado made history of his own on Saturday.
With his go-ahead three-run blast off of Andrew Cashner in the third inning on Saturday, Arenado reached the 200 home run mark, doing so in 925 career ballgames. He became the 348th player in MLB history to hit 200 or more home runs.
Arenado had himself quite the day at the dish overall on Saturday, going 3-for-4 with a homer, double and five RBI. He's now slashing a tremendous .333/.377/.632 with 14 homers and 42 RBI on the season.
In what continues to look like the year of the home run, the San Diego Padres set a new franchise record on Saturday, blasting seven home runs in their 19-4 victory over the Blue Jays.
Wil Myers started the fun with a solo shot in the second inning. Ian Kinsler followed immediately after with a solo shot of his own, increasing the Padres' lead to 3-0.
Austin Hedges then broke the game open in a big way, blasting a grand slam off of Edwin Jackson in the fourth inning to make it a 7-1 game.
Hunter Renfroe got in on the action, belting his 13th home run of the season -- a two-run blast in the sixth inning -- that increased the Padres edge to 12-3.
They then took it up a notch in the eighth inning, as Eric Hosmer slugged the first pitch he saw from Sam Gaviglio for a solo homer to start the inning. Renfroe then followed with his second blast of the afternoon, and two batters later Myers joined him in the two-homer club.
All told, the Padres scored a season-high 19 runs on 20 hits while slaughtering seven Blue Jays' pitchers -- the last of which was catcher Luke Maile who struck out a pair while working a scoreless ninth inning.
American League Quick Hits: Jose Altuve (hamstring) will begin his minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday. He'll play two games there before likely being activated by the Astros on Tuesday… David Price was lifted from his start against the Astros after just 2/3 of an inning due to flu-like symptoms… According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Indians are set to promote Zach Plesac (son of Dan Plesac) from Triple-A Columbus… Welington Castillo landed on the 7-day concussion injured list on Saturday after taking a foul ball to the head on Friday night… Tim Anderson was a late scratch from the White Sox lineup on Saturday due to a sore wrist… The Athletics' designated 42-year-old right-hander Fernando Rodney for assignment… Stephen Piscotty was scratched from Saturday's game due to illness, he's considered day-to-day… Mitch Garver (ankle) has resumed baseball activities and is nearing a return to the Twins… Dustin Pedroia (knee) will be shut down for the remainder of the weekend and re-evaluated in Boston on Monday after suffering a setback in his recovery… Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) looked "real good" in Saturday's bullpen session and is on track to rejoin the Red Sox in mid-June… The Angels mercifully placed Matt Harvey on the 10-day injured list with an upper back strain… Max Stassi was removed from Saturday's game against the Red Sox with left knee discomfort… Kyle Gibson struck out nine over seven innings of one-run ball in a victory over the White Sox… Domingo Santana swatted a pair of home runs on Saturday, but it wasn't enough to lead the Mariners to victory over the Athletics… Carlos Carrasco was pummeled for six runs and three home runs in a loss to the Rays and now sports a troublesome 4.60 ERA on the season… Charlie Morton fanned 10 over six innings of one-run baseball in a win over the Tribe… Brandon Lowe crushed his 11th homer in that win… Brad Peacock struck out eight over six scoreless innings against the Red Sox in a tough-luck no-decision… He was handed a no-decision because Roberto Osuna blew his first save of the season -- and his first in his 26 chances with the Astros -- giving up three runs in the ninth against the Red Sox. He still helped fantasy owners out though by backdooring a win in that one… Carlos Correa went 3-for-4 and delivered the walk-off RBI single in the ninth to end that one… Cameron Maybin went 2-for-3 and drove in three runs as the Yankees took the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader against the Royals… Luke Voit swatted his 13th home run of the year as the Bombers took the first game on Saturday as well… Jonathan Villar went 3-for-5 and crushed a three-run homer as the Orioles topped the Rockies… Renato Nunez homered for the fourth consecutive game in that one for the Orioles… Kole Calhoun had three hits including a double and a home run as the Angels rallied to beat the Rangers.
National League Quick Hits: Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports that Pirates' top pitching prospect Mitch Keller will make his major league debut on Monday against the Reds… Michael Conforto (concussion) is expected to be activated from the injured list prior to Sunday's series finale against the Tigers… The Giants designated Mac Williamson for assignment, promoting Mike Yastrzemski from Triple-A to take his place… The Diamondbacks cut bait with John Ryan Murphy, designating him for assignment… Brandon Nimmo, in addition to inflammation in his neck, is also dealing with whiplash and a bulging disc. He has been shut down completely until he regains the full range of motion in his neck… Charlie Blackmon missed another game due to his right calf injury… Francisco Cervelli left Saturday's game with concussion-like symptoms and is likely heading to the injured list… The Nationals signed veteran right-hander George Kontos to a minor league contract… Tyler Chatwood picked up his first save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning against the Reds… Addison Russell had three hits including a two-run homer in that victory… Hunter Renfroe had four hits, including a pair of homers, and swiped a base as the Padres throttled the Blue Jays… Wil Myers also homered twice, plating four in the rout… Josh Naylor had the first three hits of his big league career, with a double and two RBI in that one as well… Rhys Hoskins clubbed his 13th home run, helping to lead the Phillies past the Brewers… Jake Arrieta fanned eight over eight innings of two-run ball in a victory over the Brewers... Ketel Marte tallied another multi-hit game, homering and tripling in a win against the Giants… Kevin Cron picked up his first major league hit in that one and his first RBI on a wild sacrifice fly double play… Taylor Clarke earned his first MLB win in that one as well and is expected to remain in the Diamondbacks' rotation… Wilson Ramos homered twice and drove in four in a victory over the Tigers, but it was backup catcher Tomas Nido that delivered the biggest blow with a walk-off solo homer in the 13th inning… Jedd Gyorko swatted a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning -- his first home run of the season -- to sink the Braves… Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed just two runs over six innings in a victory over the Pirates. He also helped his own cause with a go-ahead RBI double… Derek Dietrich clubbed his 13th homer in a loss to the Cubs.