Posted on September 15, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine

Houston Astros Jake Marisnick

Image via chron.com

The injury bug has bit the Houston Astros at an unfortunate time. The Astros announced Thursday night that Marisnick has a fractured right thumb that will require surgery. He will be sidelined for an estimated six to eight weeks. Such a timeline likely means his season is over.

Marisnick suffered the injury while sliding into second base during Wednesday’s game against the Angels. He turned a bloop into right field into a hustle double. Unfortunately, he jammed his thumb into the base. Astros manager A.J. Hinch was immediately concerned upon seeing Marisnick’s thumb after the game. The team sent Marisnick back to Houston on Thursday to have the thumb examined. He will have surgery on Friday.

At this point in the season, the only way back for Marisnick this season is if the Astros make it to the World Series. If Houston reaches the Fall Classic, Marisnick may have enough time to heal. Of course, he wouldn’t have played a game in at least six weeks.

The injury likely ends the best season of Marisnick’s career. He’s long been known as an excellent defensive outfielder with great speed. But he finally put it together offensively in 2017. On the season, he’s hitting .243 with a career-high 16 home runs, helping to give him an OPS of .815. With his bat finally coming around, Marisnick had become an important part of Houston’s outfield this season.

Looking ahead to the postseason, Marisnick would have filled quite a few roles for the Astros. It’s possible he would have been the team’s primary center fielder during the playoffs. If nothing else, he would have likely started games against left-handed pitchers. Marisnick also would have served as a late-inning defensive replacement and a pinch-running option.

The loss of Marisnick makes the addition of Cameron Maybin at the end of August all the more important for Houston. Maybin also brings speed and defense to the table. However, he’s had all kinds of trouble offensively this season. After hitting .235 with the Angels this year, Maybin is hitting just .133 since coming to the Astros. With Marisnick sidelined, Maybin could get more opportunities to play down the stretch to see if he can get going offensively before the playoffs start.

If Maybin doesn’t answer the call, George Springer is all but guaranteed to be Houston’s primary center fielder during the playoffs. Josh Reddick will handle right field. But that still leaves a vacancy in left field. In addition to Maybin, Derek Fisher and Tony Kemp could also get more opportunities prior to the postseason. Of course, neither has been particularly productive in the majors this season.

Super-utility man Marwin Gonzalez may be the best option to join Springer and Reddick in the outfield. Gonzalez has had a breakout year with the bat. But he remains inexperienced in the outfield defensively. An outfield of Gonzalez, Spring, and Reddick would leave much to be desired defensively compared to any lineup that includes Marisnick.

On the surface, the loss of Marisnick would appear to be something the Astros can overcome. But it will definitely have an impact on the Astros, both offensively and defensively. The role of several players will be altered. Maybin, for instance, will be a more prominent figure in Houston’s postseason plans. The loss of Marisnick will undoubtedly be felt by the Astros when they reach the playoffs.

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