Dan's Dugout: Injuries Pose Double Trouble For Astros • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Injuries Pose Double Trouble For Astros

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First Dallas Keuchel. Now Lance McCullers, Jr.

Good thing the Houston Astros have a 12-game lead in the American League West.

The two aces had a combined record of 15-1 before their backs became too bothersome for them to continue taking their turns at the top of the Houston rotation.

There’s so little behind them that the Astros could even be persuaded to take Atlanta’s Bartolo Colon, the oldest, fattest, and least effective pitcher in the majors.

Houston ace Dallas Keuchel hopes for his second Cy Young trophy in three seasons

Houston ace Dallas Keuchel hopes for his second Cy Young trophy in three seasons

Keuchel, en route to his second Cy Young Award in three seasons, jumped to a 9-0 start and 1.67 earned run average, while McCullers was 6-1 and 2.58.

After that, there’s precious little – unless you count guys like Mike Fiers, Brad Peacock, David Paulino, and Joe Musgrove.

Charlie Morton, who pitched effectively earlier in the season, is slowly working his way back from a DL stint of his own, while Colin McHugh, an ex-Met, is about to begin a minor-league rehab assignment himself.

To compound the felony, top prospect Brady Rodgers is recuperating from Tommy John surgery.

For Keuchel, it’s his second stint on the DL, while McCullers is there for the first time. Nobody knows when the No. 2 guy can come back but the bearded Keuchel could return as soon as his stint on the sidelines ends (the 10-day disabled list, new this year, reads more like a book).

Aside from the aches and pains of the starting rotation, the Astros own a potent offense and have a solid team at every position. They even have a surplus of position players they can trade.

Julio Teheran could be a Houston trade target

Julio Teheran could be a Houston trade target

Targets range from veteran southpaw Jose Quintana, who could command a package despite his bad start with the White Sox, to erstwhile Oakland ace Sonny Gray. Also under consideration are Julio Teheran (Braves) and Gerrit Cole (Pirates).

If the Seattle Mariners or Texas Rangers want to whittle into the Houston lead, now’s the time. The Rangers won 10 straight earlier this season and have more depth than the M’s.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Aaron Judge, the new face of the Yankees, could become the third ballplayer to be Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season (following Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki) . . .

Instead of firing manager Mike Matheny, the slumping St. Louis Cardinals axed third base coach Chris Maloney . . .

Less than a year after winning a world championship, the Chicago Cubs wonder what’s wrong with ace Jake Arrieta, the National League’s Cy Young winner two years ago . . .

Jake Arrieta is way off his Cy Young form this year

Jake Arrieta is way off his Cy Young form this year

With free agency facing Mike Moustakas, the Kansas City third baseman is enjoying the best year of his career . . .

Being more selective at the plate has made Oakland first baseman Yonder Alonso into a sudden slugger – and trade bait for the Yankees . . .

So the Braves hit one home run during a four-game home series against the Mets, then slam five in the very next game, a road game in Washington started by Stephen Strasburg . . .

With better command of his fastball and curveball, Boston closer Craig Kimbrel has fanned more than half the men he’s faced . . .

The fate of the Mets could be decided during the next 10 days, when they face the Cubs, Nationals, and Dodgers . . .

If the season ended today, the NL West would send three teams to the playoffs . . .

Masahiro Tanaka is a legitimate ace when he's healthy, but his elbow is considered to be a ticking timebomb.

Masahiro Tanaka is a legitimate ace when he’s healthy, but his elbow is considered to be a ticking time bomb.

Is a bad elbow the reason Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka went 0-5 with a 10.72 ERA and yielded 11 home runs over a five-start span? . . .

Keeping Yoenis Cespedes healthy seems to be a major problem for the New York Mets . . .

Greg Bird’s eight spring training home runs are ancient history in the wake of the ankle issues that have hampered him all season . . .

Mallex Smith (Rays) is making the most of his chance as understudy for injured centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier . . .

The home run explosion is personified by Punch & Judy hitter Eric Young, Jr., who has suddenly added power to his resume.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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