Posted on July 18, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Houston Astros have been dealt a serious blow. The club announced Tuesday that shortstop Carlos Correa is expected to miss the next six to eight weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb. The 22-year old was forced out of Monday’s loss to the Mariners after jamming the thumb. But further examination showed a torn ligament. The Astros have recalled third baseman Colin Moran to take Correa’s spot on the roster.
“Losing a player of Carlos’ caliber for an extended period is a big blow to our club, but I believe we have the roster to persevere and continue to win games,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said in a statement. “We do expect Carlos to return to the club in September and be ready to contribute down the stretch.”
Correa’s thumb had been bothering him before he aggravated it on a swing during Monday’s game. He originally injured the thumb while sliding into home plate two weeks ago. He sat out one game but then started to get hot offensively heading into the All-Star break, despite playing in pain.
“I was wishing with the (All-Star) break it was just going to go away,” Correa said after Monday’s game. “I think I’ve been playing through some pain the last couple of days.”
The injury interrupts what has been an outstanding season for Correa. He’s currently hitting .320 with an OPS of .966. Correa already has 20 home runs on the season and needs just three more to set his career high. The former Rookie of the Year also started his first All-Star Game last week in Miami.
Correa’s injury is believed to be similar to the injury Mike Trout suffered earlier this year. Trout just returned from the DL, a little more than six weeks after the injury. It’s unclear if the extent of the tear in Correa’s thumb is any better or worse than Trout’s injury. But it does give the Astros hope that they’ll have their shortstop back in six weeks. Such a timeline would have him back right around the first of September.
While Correa is on the DL, utilty infielder Marwin Gonzalez is likely to get a majority of the playing time at shortstop. Gonzalez is having the best offensive season of his career. He’s hitting .311 and already has a career-high 17 home runs, helping him post an OPS of .974, far above his career average. Defensively, Gonzalez has started 193 major league games at shortstop, more than any other position.
The Astros also have the option of moving Alex Bregman to shortstop, which is his natural position. Bregman moved to third base upon reaching the big leagues because he was blocked there by Correa. He’s started three games at shortstop this season. Moran would likely fill in at third base if Bregman were to move. At triple-A this season, Moran is hitting .308 with 18 home runs, posting an OPS of .916.
The silver lining for the Astros is that they can expect to get Correa back before the end of the season. They also have multiple options for how to replace him for the time being. Most importantly, Houston entered Tuesday with a 15.5 game lead atop the AL West. If there’s one team in baseball that can survive an injury to a marquee player, it’s the Astros. Nevertheless, seeing a player of Correa’s importance go down with a long-term injury is never a good thing for a team with World Series aspirations.