Just in time for their rematch against Matt Cain, the Astros put two starters on the disabled list Sunday, Jed Lowrie and Jason Castro.
Lowrie, the Astros’ most productive hitter with 14 homers and 36 RBI this season, suffered a sprained ankle during Saturday’s game. Castro, who has a solid .254/.440/.379 line in 169 at-bats, is dealing with soreness in his surgically repaired right knee.
With both players out, the Astros will turn to Rule 5 pick Marwin Gonzalez at shortstop and veteran Chris Snyder behind the plate.
The Astros are facing Cain today for the first time since the Giants right-hander pitched a perfect game against them on June 13. He struck out 14 that night.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.