Nov 5, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) looks on during the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in game six of the 2022 World Series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The only thing that can derail this Astros team is injuries. Saturday, they suffered a significant one when Jose Altuve was hit by a pitch while playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
Altuve, per Bob Nightingale, is expected to miss 8-10 weeks with a broken thumb.
Altuve was hit by a pitch during Venezuela’s 9-7 loss to Team USA in the World Baseball Classic quarterfinals.
The WBC has come under scrutiny after the Mets lost star closer Edwin Diaz for the season during a celebration injury. Now Altuve is out.
Altuve’s injury could have happened in any spring training game. Diaz’s would not have.
So, it’s easy to blame the WBC, but Altuve could have happened any time in a just as meaningless spring training game. The bigger question is, how does it affect the Astros? Unlike Diaz, Altuve will be back. The Astros can fade two-plus months without him. It will likely mean a lot more Mauricio Dubon and David Hensley for a while. They should be able to hold it down.
In the interim, the Astros are still loaded. Alex Bregman, Jeremy Pena, Jose Abreu, Kyle Tucker, Michael Brantley, and Yordan Alvarez are still fearsome, even without Altuve. He is the impetus for so much of the Astros’ offense, however, and his presence will be missed. But the Astros have the horses to get by.
Who will bat leadoff? Altuve is an important piece at the top of the order. That’s a big question. Still, the Astros are good enough to handle things in his absence because Altuve will eventually be back. It remains to be seen if there are long-term issues – wrist injuries can be tricky – but by the playoffs, he should be fine, and that’s what the Astros are built for.
We can argue whether or not the WBC is worth it. International competitions are fun, and players love to represent their countries. But on the flip side, do fans really care about this tournament?
Astros fans do now, for the wrong reason. But they will be OK, and so will Altuve. It could have been worse. And it could have happened any time.