Posted on: March 21, 2023, 11:11h.
Last updated on: March 21, 2023, 08:09h.
The defending World Series champion Houston Astros won’t have second baseman Jose Altuve in the Opening Day lineup after he sustained an injury during the World Baseball Classic.
While playing for his home country of Venezuela in the WBC, Altuve fractured his right thumb in a game against the USA in the quarterfinals. He was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning by an errant fastball from Daniel Bard.
Altuve was removed from the game, and knew he had a serious injury. The Americans defeated the Venezuelans, 9-7, thanks to a go-ahead grand slam from Trea Turner, and Venezuela was eliminated from the tournament. The Americans defeated Cuba in the semifinals and will meet Japan Tuesday night in the WBC final.
Altuve was not the only MLB star with an injury during the WBC. Edwin Diaz, the closer for the New York Mets, suffered a season-ending knee injury while playing for Puerto Rico. Diaz tore the patellar tendon in his right knee during a postgame celebration after an emotional victory for Puerto Rico over the Dominican Republic in the quarterfinals.
Altuve to Undergo Surgery, Future in Doubt
Altuve is an eight-time MLB All-Star and was an important part of two World Series championship squads. He won the American League MVP in 2017 and won a Gold Glove in 2015. He’s also a six-time Silver Slugger Award winner and three-time AL batting champion. The speedy Altuve also led the AL in steals twice.
The Astros relied on Altuve’s durability over the last decade. He logged 137 games or more nine times since his first full season in 2012. He appeared in 150 games in five-straight seasons between 2013 and 2017.
“Obviously, nobody wants to get hurt and start the season on the IL,” said Altuve. “I want to control what I can control and that’s recover fast and get back to the team.”
It’s a massive blow,” said Astros GM Dana Brown.
Altuve posted a slashline of .300/.387/.533 last season with 28 home runs and 57 RBI in 141 games. He struggled in the 2022 postseason with one of his worst outings in seven playoff appearances, hitting just .190 with zero home runs. His huge falloff in production was a surprise, considering he hit five home runs in each of the previous three postseasons.
Altuve is out indefinitely while he recovers from surgery. But a conservative estimate is that he’ll miss at least eight weeks because of the thumb injury.
Betting the Houston Astros
The Astros are seeking back-to-back World Series titles, which is no easy feat. The New York Yankees were the last repeat winner. They won three-consecutive championships between 1998 and 2000.
The Astros are +600 odds to win the 2023 World Series, and are the consensus favorite, despite Altuve’s injury. The Yankees and Atlanta Braves are their closest competition at +750 odds, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers (+850), San Diego Padres (+950), and New York Mets (+950).
The Astros are +310 odds to win a third-straight American League pennant. They’re slightly ahead of the banged-up Yankees at +360 odds. The Astros won the AL pennant four times in the last six seasons, including back-to-back pennants in 2021 and 2022.
The Astros are -175 odds to win the AL West for the third straight season. The Seattle Mariners are second on DraftKings’ MLB futures board at +320 odds, followed by the Los Angeles Angels (+750), Texas Rangers (+850), and Oakland As (+25000). The Astros won six AL West titles since 2017 but failed to win the division during a pandemic-shortened season in 2020.
The Astros led the AL with 106 wins last season. They have a win total of 95.5 over/under entering this season. The Astros are tied with the Dodgers for the highest win total in 2023, according to DraftKings.
Altuve saw his AL MVP odds slip to +5000 because of his thumb injury.