Posted on May 25, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Houston Astros are about to endure life without center fielder George Springer. On Saturday, the Astros added Springer to the 10-day Injured List after he left Friday’s game with a hamstring injury. Prior to Wednesday, the Astros had already been without Springer for several days due to a lower back injury. Derek Fisher has been called up to take Springer’s spot on the roster.
Springer suffered the injury while running into foul territory in hopes of catching a fly ball. He failed to make the catch and ended up sliding in order to avoid a collision with the wall. Springer immediately clutched for his hamstring and was removed from the game. He’s been diagnosed with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. The Astros don’t have a firm timeline on Springer’s return, but it figures to be at least a few weeks.
“Our doctors have told us that he’s injured, but it’s not as dramatic as we have feared,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Saturday. “He’s going to be out a little while, and he’s going to exceed the 10 days, but they were encouraged by their findings and observations. He’s really sore. He’s not going to do anything for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, if the initial diagnosis is right, we avoided the catastrophe.”
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While the Astros have a deep roster, Springer has arguably been the team’s most important player this season. He’s currently hitting .308 with an OPS of 1.032 while leading the American League with 17 home runs. That’s already half of his career-high of 34 home runs with roughly two-thirds of the season left to play. Of course, Springer will now miss a significant chunk of the season.
With Springer unavailable, Jake Marisnick will be in line for even more playing time in center field. Marisnick has started roughly half of Houston’s games in center field this year, which pushes Springer to right field. Marisnick is known for playing excellent defense, but he’s also having a great offensive season, hitting .284 with an OPS of .898.
Even with Marisnick in center field most days, Springer’s absence will force Josh Reddick to spend more time in right field rather than serving as the DH. That means the Astros will rotate a little more at the DH spot than they’ve done this season. It should also free up more playing time in the outfield for Fisher and Tony Kemp.
As mentioned, the Astros just spent some time without Springer, as he missed their entire four-game series against the White Sox earlier this week. However, Houston split that four-game set and scored just 12 runs in those four games without Springer leading the way at the top of the order. It may be a small sample, but it doesn’t bode well for them with Springer about to miss even more time.
“Our best team has George Springer in the leadoff spot,” Hinch said Friday.
The silver lining for the Astros is that they’ve already established themselves as the team to beat in the AL West. They began Saturday with a seven-game lead at the top of the division. But Springer has been vital to their success and maintaining control of the AL West without him won’t be easy.