With the September call-ups less than three weeks away, the Houston Astros have a decision to make in the near future with their prize possession of the major league club.
Outfielder George Springer has been out of the Astros’ lineup with two separate leg injuries — a right knee sprain and more recently, a left quad strain. The Astros have had their struggles without Springer in the lineup, but the team received some offensive help with Dexter Fowler coming back from the disabled list. With Fowler back in centerfield and September call-ups right around the corner, the Astros would be wise to let Springer completely heal, even if it means shutting him down for the rest of the season.
Fowler coming back pushes recently-added outfielder Jake Marisnick to right field, leaving only left field for Springer to play. From an offensive standpoint, the Astros will get a solid boost with Fowler’s bat back in the lineup. The Astros already have Robbie Grossman starting in left, who has been swinging a better stick the last couple of weeks. This makes it a little easier for the team to let Springer fully heal, because they have a player that is qualified to play every day if needed.
The rosters will be expanding when September arrives, and that will give the Astros more leeway with how many outfielders they will have on their roster. With Springer being hurt and the Astros being fairly deep in terms of prospects, the team can afford to call up an extra outfielder to get some major league time. Outfielder Domingo Santana is one player who has been up a couple of times this year that could play in left field if Grossman falls into a huge hitting slump. He has struggled in both his trips to the big leagues, but he is a top prospect and he needs as much experience as he can get.
The most important thing for the Astros to keep in mind is Springer’s health. The only thing of value they are in a position to compete for this season is the first-overall pick next year in the draft. There is no reason to get him back on the field just to put butts in the seats. His health and the team’s future are far more important than the short-term situation of a next-to-last place team with a little more than a month to go in the season.