With seven weeks of the 2023 regular season now in the books, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Altuve to return?
Astros star Jose Altuve has yet to play this season thanks to thumb surgery he underwent after suffering an injury during the World Baseball Classic. That could change soon. On the heels of Altuve beginning a rehab assignment last week, manager Dusty Baker told reporters (including The Athletic’s Chandler Rome) that the second baseman was returning to Minute Maid Park for a workout during yesterday’s off-day, and could be activated from the injured list as soon as today if said workout goes well.
Adding Altuve back into the club’s lineup on a daily basis should be a boost for an Astros offense that ranks bottom five in the majors in terms of OPS this season. Despite those offensive woes, Houston has played to a 24-19 record, though that figure is only good enough for second place in the AL West, behind the 26-17 Rangers. Mauricio Dubon has filled in admirably for Altuve, hitting .309/.333/.389 in 156 plate appearances while playing above-average defense per both Defensive Runs Saved (5) and Outs Above Average (1).
2. Severino expected to be activated:
Also expected to make his 2023 regular season debut this weekend is Yankees right-hander Luis Severino, who as noted by Bryach Hoch of MLB.com was announced by manager Aaron Boone as the club’s likely starter for Sunday’s game against the Reds. The 29-year-old Severino pitched just 18 innings between the 2019, 2020, and 2021 campaigns but returned to the mound for 102 strong innings last season, posting a 3.18 ERA and 3.70 FIP with a 27.7% strikeout rate.
If Severino can make a similar impact for the Yankees this season, that would be a huge development for the Yankees, who have seen minimal production from their rotation outside of Gerrit Cole. Nestor Cortes, Jhony Brito, and Clarke Schmidt all have ERAs north of 5.00, Domingo German was recently suspended for violating the foreign substance ban. Neither Carlos Rodon nor Frankie Montas has thrown a pitch this season.
3. Mets roster moves incoming:
Last night, it was reported that the Mets are expected to select the contract of veteran catcher Gary Sanchez before this evening’s game against the Guardians. Seeing as Sanchez isn’t on the 40-man roster, the Mets will have to clear space both on the 40-man and active rosters to accommodate him. Speculatively speaking, Sanchez could take the place of current backup catcher Michael Perez, who has appeared in just two games for the club while filling in for the injured Tomas Nido.
Sanchez, who went 8-for-26 with nine walks and ten strikeouts in 37 Triple-A plate appearances with the Mets, would likely be an upgrade over the 30-year-old Perez, who sports a career 53 wRC+ over 598 plate appearances since the beginning of his big league career in 2018. Sanchez has a career wRC+ of 109 across his 666 games in the majors, with the majority of those coming as the primary catcher for the Yankees.