With Jose Altuve’s Return, What’s Next for Houston?

The face of the Houston Astros makes his return to the lineup and Jose Altuve will have the chance to get the Astros back on track.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 01: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros looks on during batting practice prior to Game Three of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 01, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Jose Altuve made his season debut on Friday night against the Oakland Athletics going 0-4 in a 5-1 win. Altuve’s return to the field was ahead of schedule, he suffered a broken thumb while playing in the World Baseball Classic and it was believed he would be out of the lineup until at least June 1 after undergoing surgery.

However, the future Hall of Famer defied the odds yet again returning after missing 43 games.

Altuve is going to provide a spark for Houston, who finally have their leader back in the clubhouse. The eight-time All-Star was missed, Houston finds themselves in unfamiliar territory, currently sitting in second place in the AL West. The Astros’ dynasty has been centered around their second baseman and with him returning to the lineup this offense will get a much-needed boost.

Offensively their numbers as a team are down compared to last year. They are batting .244 as a team, with a .312 OBP, and a .377 SLG which is .47 points lower than last year. Many forget that Altuve is a power threat as well, he hit 59 homers over the past two seasons and combined to drive in 140 runs at the top of the lineup. The Astros can use his slugging again.

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Before this past week they found themselves floating around .500, things may be turning around though, as Houston is on a six-game winning streak. Now you add Altuve back into the equation and the Astros could reclaim their spot atop the AL West very soon.

What’s the Astros Lineup Moving Forward?

The Astros starting lineup will once again include Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Jose Abreu, Kyle Tucker and Jeremy Peña nearly every day. Alvarez and Tucker are the only two players from that group that have really met expectations with season, as established veterans like Abreu and Bregman have not matched their standards. Now with Altuve back, maybe things will fall into place for those former All-Stars.

Beyond that group of six, the Astros have to figure out how to get playing time to outfielders Chas McCormick, Jake Meyers and Corey Julks, as well as utility man Maurcio Dubón, who is most affected by Altuve’s return since he was filling that void at second base.

Dubón has been one of the Astros better hitters so far this season, exceeding expectations when he filled in for Altuve. Having been a role player for much of his career, Dubón is off to a great start, hitting .309/.333/.389 to start the year with a 101 wRC+.

There are a couple of options for Dubón. He can continue as a utility player, playing every so often and filling in for guys on off days or maybe there is a role for him as a starter going forward. He has played second and shortstop in the infield but has also seen time in center field.


At the end of the day this Astros team still isn’t at full strength. They are missing Michael Brantley and Lance McCullers Jr. who have yet to make their season debut. Houston is still one of the best teams in baseball when healthy and adding Altuve back in the lineup is going to make this team better.

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The Astros are 9-1 over their last ten games and are chipping away at the Rangers lead at the top of the division. Houston is only two games back and they have an easier part of their schedule coming up. They have one more game against Oakland before traveling to Milwaukee, then they play the Athletics again. The next seven games for Houston are winnable and they have a prime chance to jump the Rangers and regain the top spot in the division.