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MLB News And Notes For May 8th, 2023

Roughly one-fifth of the way into the season, teams are starting to get a grasp on whether their teams will be competitive this season. While there has been some surprising play early on, both positive and negative, the baseball has been fantastic.

While most of the focus has been on the field, let’s take a look at some of Major League Baseball’s biggest stories off the field as well.

Astros Pitching Depth Takes Big Hit

At 17-16, the Houston Astros have struggled for consistency early on, in big part due to a number of injuries. Players like Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Lance McCullers Jr, Chas McCormick, Jose Urquidy, and Luis Garcia have all been struggling with injuries. For Garcia, his injury will have him sidelined until next year.

On Friday, the Astros announced that Garcia will have to undergo Tommy John surgery, meaning he will likely be out until sometime through the 2024 campaign.

This season, the 26-year-old was 2-2 with a 4.00 ERA, 1.296 WHIP, and he had 31 strikeouts in 27 innings of work. In his last start, though, he lasted just eight pitches before having to leave the game with elbow discomfort.

While the Astros are hoping to get Urquidy and Mccullers Jr back at some point in the relatively near future, they are having to rely on youngsters right now. In addition to rotation stalwarts Framber Valdez and Christian Javier, the Astros are hoping for big production from Hunter Brown, J.P. France, and Brandon Bielak.

Despite the injuries and inconsistent play from some of the regulars, the Astros still have the second-best odds of winning the World Series this season at +650.

White Sox Lose Slugger For Foreseeable Future

It has been an incredibly disappointing start to Pedro Grifol’s tenure as head coach of the Chicago White Sox, and it appears that the club is taking another hit. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez will be out for roughly four to six weeks due to an appendectomy. The slugger had gone to the hospital on Saturday after feeling stomach pain.

In 97 at bats, Jimenez is hitting .258/.321/.423 with four home runs, 15 runs batted in, and 12 runs scored.

Unfortunately, while something like an appendectomy is out of the player’s control, his lack of consistent availability has been an issue for the White Sox in his career. In fact, in his first four seasons, he has yet to have more than 468 at bats in a season, and he has had less than 300 at bats in three of the first four.

This is certainly tough news for a club that has gotten off to a miserable 11-23 start. They currently sit fourth in the AL Central, eight games behind the Minnesota Twins.

There was hope that a shift in managers might help reenergize the club. Things just didn’t work out under Tony La Russa over the last couple years, but it has been an auspicious start for Grifol’s tenure as well.

Currently, the White Sox have just the third-best odds of winning the AL Central at +1200.

Cardinals Regretting Their Investment?

While the task of replacing the greatness of a legend like Yadier Molina behind the plate is an impossible task, the Cardinals thought they had their solution when they added veteran Willson Contreras to a five-year, $87.5 million deal this offseason. It appears the confidence was short-lived.

On Saturday, The Athletic’s Katie Woo reported that the club intends to go with Andrew Knizner as their primary catcher for the foreseeable future, while Willson Contreras will take over a designated hitter and corner outfield role.

In 112 at bats, Contreras is hitting .277/.354/.411 with two home runs, 14 runs batted in, and 15 runs scored this season. While his work at the plate has been serviceable, the Cardinals are hoping for more consistent work with the overall defense behind the plate.

Of course, this is just one of a series of problems for a Cardinals team that has gotten off to a dismal 10-24 start. They are dead last in their division and have the worst record in the National League. It has been a brutal start for a team that won the division last season by seven games.

St. Louis has fallen to have just the fourth-best odds of winning the NL Central at +500, and they are +3000 to win the World Series this season.

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