Description: Houston catcher Jason Castro (left shoulder) is questionable for Friday's game against Boston.
Insight: Castro is dealing with pain in his left armpit and missed his third straight game Wednesday night. Those who were hoping he would build on last season's 18 HR, 56 RBI, .836 OPS statistics have been disappointed thus far in 2014.
Description: Astros starter Collin McHugh (fingernail) will throw a bullpen session Thursday to determine if he'll be able to start Saturday against the Red Sox, according to mlb.com.
Insight: McHugh left Sunday's start after four innings after the fingernail on his right middle finger pulled away from the skin. Even if he can't start Saturday, he'll only miss one start due to the upcoming All-Star break. McHugh has been a nice surprise for the Astros this season, posting a 3.28 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 93 Ks in 82 1/3 innings.
Description: Houston DH Chris Carter went 2-for-4 with two solo homers Tuesday at Texas.
Insight: Carter (.194) has sent one to Souvenir City four times in his past four games and has 17 home runs this season. However, fantasy owners looking to ride his hot streak should think again with Yu Darvish on the hill Wednesday. Carter is 0-for-11 with seven Ks against the Rangers right-hander.
Description: Houston second baseman Jose Altuve has a .333 lifetime average against Angels right-hander Garrett Richards (5-for-15).
Insight: Not many people have favorable numbers against the Angels' flamethrower, but Altuve's been a bit of a superman this season. Of his five hits against Richards, one was a double. We don't need to tell you Altuve is a must-start from now forward, but it'll be nice to expect some good results against a very good pitcher.
Description: Houston center fielder Dexter Fowler has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 27.
Insight: Fowler hasn't been anything special this season, hitting just .270 with six homers and 24 RBI in 77 games, though he's played better at home than on the road and can be a viable option in Minute Maid Park (.290 BA, .858 OPS at home).
Description: Houston center fielder Dexter Fowler has missed the first two games in the series with Detroit and is questionable again on Sunday.
Insight: He's dealing with back stiffness. Fowler hasn't been anything special this season, hitting just .270 with six homers and 24 RBI in 77 games, though he's played better at home than on the road and can be a viable option in Minute Maid Park (.290 BA, .858 OPS at home).
Description: Astros LHP Brett Oberholtzer has given up four runs on 15 hits in 19 1/3 innings since he was recalled from Triple-A.
Insight: Oberholtzer had a 5.68 ERA when he went to the minors; he's down to 4.40 after holding the Tigers to one run on five hits in 6 1/3 innings Saturday. The left-hander had a 2.76 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP as a rookie last year.
Description: Houston second baseman Jose Altuve is 0-for-7 against Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer.
Insight: Altuve leads the league with a .342 batting average. But he's done a lot more than hit for average with 40 runs scored, 32 stolen bases and 28 extra-base hits. He's playing at an All-Star level. He just has an unfavorable matchup on Saturday.
Description: Houston center fielder Dexter Fowler will sit out Friday against Detroit. SOURCE: Evan Drellich, Houston Chronicle
Insight: He's dealing with back stiffness. Fowler hasn't been anything special this season, hitting just .270 with six homers and 24 RBI in 77 games. Alex Presley (.232, 3 HR, 8 RBI) will get the nod at center field.
Description: Houston second baseman Jose Altuve collected two hits and two stolen bases Thursday in a victory over Atlanta.
Insight: Altuve (.334, 2 HR, 25 RBI, 30 SB) is having a remarkable season and is part of the reason the Astros feel so optimistic about their future. Altuve won't beat Robinson Cano in the fan voting but he's certainly done enough to warrant a spot on this year's All-Star squad.
Description: The Astros have called up Jose Veras from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Insight: Veras (0-1, 7.90 ERA) was let go by the Cubs earlier this month but quickly caught on with his old team. Veras could carve out a role for himself in middle relief but is unlikely to challenge Chad Qualls for the closer's spot.
Description: Astros right fielder George Springer wemt 1-for-5 with a solo homer Tuesday against Atlanta.
Insight: Springer went 4-for-31 in his previous nine games and has batted .206 with four home runs and 28 Ks in June. The 24-year-old has 14 home runs in just 225 at-bats, but with 83 strikeouts and a .240 average. He's also not running after stealing 45 bases in the minors last season.
Description: Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said Monday that Carlos Correa will miss a significant amount of time with a right ankle injury, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Insight: Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, has hit .325 with six homers, 57 RBI, 20 steals and a 45/36 K/BB in 293 plate appearances with High-A Lancaster this season. The 19-year-old should make the majors at some point in 2015.
Description: Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (hand) had four hits in his return to the lineup Tuesday.
Insight: He didn't start the past three games due to a right hand contusion, but had two doubles, two singles adn two RBI Tuesday against Washington. The 5-foot-5 second baseman leads the big leagues with 94 hits and is fifth with a .326 average.
Description: Astros right fielder George Springer capped a miserable series by striking out four times Sunday against Tampa Bay.
Insight: All our worst fears about Springer are coming true. A .302 career hitter in the minor leagues, Springer's long swing and lack of a two-strike approach have caused him to strike out 76 times in his first 200 major league at bats. It seems contact will always be an issue for Springer but at least his power hasn't gone away (12 HR, .470 slugging percentage).
Description: Houston starter Jarred Cosart has allowed three runs or less in each of his last 10 starts.
Insight: Cosart still has a 4.16 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP because he started out with a 7.36 ERA in his first four starts. The right-hander has a 4.00 FIP and probably isn't going to be much better than his current statistics.
Description: Astros starter Dallas Keuchel looked like he was on a mission Wednesday against the Diamondbacks.
Insight: In eight innings, Keuchel gave up just four hits and one earned run. He's now won six of his last seven starts, compiling an absurd 1.33 ERA during that stretch. An unknown at the start of the season, Keuchel is now owned in all ESPN fantasy leagues.
Description: Houston DH Chris Carter smashed two homers in Wednesday's victory over the Diamondbacks.
Insight: Both were solo shots. Carter has six RBI in his last three contests but is still hitting just .199 for the season. Until he can get that average up to a more respectable level, we can't endorse Carter as a fantasy option.
Description: Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is not in the lineup Wednesday, according to Brian McTaggart of mlb.com. UPDATE: Altuve says he tweaked his left oblique Tuesday and that he's going to try to force his way into the lineup.
Insight: Altuve hasn't had a day off this entire season. He leads baseball with 88 hits and is hitting .315 with 33 runs and 24 steals.
Description: Astros starter Collin McHugh is dealing with a blister on his right middle finger but is still listed as the scheduled starter for Friday's game against the Rays, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Insight: McHugh has a surprising 2.82 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP and 60 Ks in 54 1/3 innings this season. The Rays are a fantastic matchup right now, as they have been shut out in three straight games and have the worst record in baseball.
Description: Astros right fielder George Springer will miss a second consecutive start with right knee soreness.
Insight: After a slow start, Springer pounded the baseball in May, batting .294 with 10 homers and 25 RBI. He's slowed a bit in June and now has an injury to deal with. He's got huge upside and this is just a temporary setback.
Description: Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar went 3-for-5 in Sunday's win over Minnesota.
Insight: It's a welcome sight for fantasy owners as Villar (.205, 5 HR, 18 RBI) has struggled mightily at the plate this season. Villar's speed can be an asset but he hasn't stolen a base in his last 13 games.
Description: Astros first baseman Jon Singleton launched a grand slam Sunday in a win over Minnesota.
Insight: Two of Singleton's five hits since being promoted have been home runs. Manager Bo Porter says Singleton is the everyday first baseman so he should get plenty of chances as the season rolls on.
Description: Astros DH Chris Carter slugged his first career grand slam Sunday versus Minnesota.
Insight: After going 78 games without a grand slam, the Astros hit two in a span of three innings on Sunday. Carter is hitting under .200 but at least he has ten homers and 27 RBI. The 27-year-old is owned in fewer than ten percent of ESPN fantasy leagues.
Description: Houston DH Chris Carter has hit Angels flamethrower Garrett Richards well throughout his career (6-for-13, 1 HR, 1 2B).
Insight: Carter has struck out three times against Richards, but that's nothing out of the ordinary for the power-hitting DH, who is batting .200 on the year and struck out a whopping 62 times. Still, he's got nine home runs and 11 doubles and could be a savvy play tonight.
Description: The Astros will immediately make Jon Singleton their everyday first baseman. Singleton is set to make his major league debut on Tuesday. SOURCE: Evan Drellich, Houston Chronicle
Insight: Singleton, who signed a five-year extension today, will start off batting out of the No. 6 spot in the lineup. The impressive power he displayed in Triple-A (14 HR in 195 at bats) suggests he could be a factor right away.
Description: The Astros have signed first baseman Jon Singleton to a five-year, $10 million contract extension.
Insight: He's slated to make his big league debut on Tuesday. Singleton's career was briefly derailed by substance abuse but he's put that behind him and has had a very good season for Triple-A Oklahoma City (.267, 14 HR, 43 RBI).
Description: Houston DH Chris Carter is not in Saturday's starting lineup.
Insight: After hitting two home runs on Wednesday, Carter went hitless in his next to games. The 27-year-old has always had good power but his .193 batting average in 166 at bats this season can't be too appealing to fantasy owners.
Description: Houston catcher Carlos Corporan delivered three hits in Wednesday's win over Kansas City.
Insight: Corporan (.193, 4 HR, 8 RBI) isn't someone we talk about in fantasy too often because Jason Castro sees most of the action behind the plate. Wednesday marked Corporan's first multi-hit effort of the season.
Description: Houston right fielder George Springer launched his ninth home run of the season Wednesday in a win against Kansas City.
Insight: All nine of his blasts have come in the month of May. If not for the dominance of Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu, Springer (.269, 9 HR, 27 RBI) could be a Rookie of the Year candidate. He's on pace for 27 homers, which would be the most by an American League rookie since Mike Trout in 2012.
Description: Astros starter Collin McHugh continued to rack up strikeouts Tuesday at Kansas City.
Insight: He struck out nine without walking a batter or allowing a run over seven innings and is now 3-3 with a 2.80 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP and a 50/12 K/BB in 45 innings this season. He was 0-8 with an 8.94 ERA in 47 1/3 career innings before this season, but he's figured things out. He has the lowest contact rate on swings in the strike zone of any pitcher with at least 40 innings.
Description: Astros right fielder George Springer went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a homer, three RBI, a walk and five runs Monday at Kansas City.
Insight: It appears Springer has figured out big league pitching after struggling initially. The 24-year-old has homered five times in his last four games and gone 24-for-70 (.343) with eight home runs, 20 RBI, 18 runs, 10 walks and a 1.204 OPS over his last 18.
Description: Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel didn't allow an earned run in a complete game Sunday at Seattle.
Insight: The 26-year-old ground-ball artist has gone the distance in two of his last three starts and came within one out of a complete game in the third. He's 6-2 with a 2.55 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP and is a must-add in all leagues.
Description: Astros catcher Jason Castro isn't someone you want in your fantasy lineup Sunday against the Mariners.
Insight: He's never done well against today's starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (2-for-14 with four strikeouts). You might want to consider sitting all Houston players Sunday as Iwakuma (3-0, 1.76 ERA) has allowed just two runs total over his last 24 innings pitched.
Description: Astros right fielder George Springer smashed two homers Saturday in a win against Seattle.
Insight: Fantasy owners may have been scared off by Springer's slow start but he's been raking over his last six games (.364, 3 HR, 8 RBI). If Springer is still available in your league, make sure to scoop him up before someone else does.
Description: Astros right fielder George Springer is not available for Friday's game against the Mariners. SOURCE: Bob Dutton, Tacoma News Tribune
Insight: Springer (.240, 4 HR, 15 RBI) strained his hip flexor Wednesday while colliding with Albert Pujols on a play at first base. He's hoping to avoid the disabled list. Alex Presley (.202, 3 HR, 7 RBI) is getting another start in right field.
Description: Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is 5-for-12 (.417) versus Seattle right-hander Felix Hernandez.
Insight: Altuve has made himself into a top fantasy second baseman. He's batting .310 with 23 runs scored, 15 RBI, a league-leading 16 steals and a .785 OPS. He's batting .418 over the past two weeks and has a favorable matchup. Start him.
Description: Houston will be without right fielder George Springer Thursday against Seattle.
Insight: The rookie is out with a strained right hip flexor. Springer, who is hitting .286 in May, told Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that he does not expect to require a stint on the disabled list. Alex Presley (.207, 3 HR, 7 RBI) is getting the start in right field.
Description: Houston shortstop Jonathan Villar left Sunday's game with a right hand contusion and is doubtful for Monday's game against the LA Angels.
Insight: Villar has surprisingly added the home run ball to his fantasy value which last year was exclusively base stealing. He's already hit five homers and has 15 RBI along with 11 steals and 18 runs scored.
Description: Houston shortstop Jonathan Villar left Sunday's game with a right hand contusion, according to Brian McTaggart of mlb.com.
Insight: Villar went 2-for-2 with two RBI, a run and a steal before leaving the game. The 23-year-old is hitting .233 with five homers, 15 RBI, 18 runs and 11 steals this season, so he has some fantasy value.
Description: Astros right fielder George Springer went 2-for-4 with a triple, a walk and one RBI Saturday against the White Sox.
Insight: Springer has gone 14-for-47 (.298) with two doubles, a triple and three homers in his last 12 games, though he still struck out 21 times in that span and has 45 Ks in just 124 plate appearances (36.3 K%) this season.
Description: Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel fired his first career shutout Tuesday against the Rangers.
Insight: Kuechel had a 7/0 K/BB and gave up seven hits in his nine innings of work Tuesday. The left-hander, who has a 65.1 percent ground-ball rate this season, has posted a 2.63 ERA and a 42/9 K/BB over 48 innings his last seven starts and is still widely available in Yahoo! leagues (9.0% ownership).
Description: Astros right fielder George Springer has been slotted in the No. 2 hole for Tuesday's game against the Rangers.
Insight: Springer is batting .280 over the past dozen games after hitting just .170 for his first dozen. We're still waiting for him to show the speed we know he has. He has yet to steal a base (caught once) after swiping 45 in the minors last season.
Description: Astros catcher Jason Castro is 4-for-5 with three doubles and a home run (2.833 OPS) versus right-hander Miguel Gonzalez.
Insight: Castro has missed a few games after being hit by a backswing Wednesday and is not guaranteed to be in the lineup. The 26-year-old has four homers and 14 RBI in 29 games, but he's hitting just .215 with 39 Ks. We await the 2013 version that batted .276 with 18 HR and 56 RBI in 120 games.
Description: Astros right-hander Scott Feldman (biceps) returned to the rotation Friday and allowed two runs on six hits with a 6/0 K/BB in six innings at Baltimore.
Insight: Feldman gave up a pair of solo homers, his first two round-trippers allowed this year, but otherwise didn't allow the O's to score. The right-hander will take a 2-1 record, a 1.93 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP into his next start against the Rangers.
Description: Houston left fielder L.J. Hoes broke out of an 0-for-20 slump by delivering three hits Thursday in a 6-2 win over the Tigers.
Insight: Hoes, the everyday right fielder before George Springer came to town, has fallen into a platoon with Alex Presley (.224, 3 HR, 7 RBI) in left field. Neither player has done enough to warrant a spot on any fantasy teams.
Description: Astros first base prospect Jon Singleton has 10 homers and a .997 OPS in 32 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City this season.
Insight: MLB.com ranks Singleton as the top first-base prospect in baseball. He may already be in the majors if he wasn't suspended 50 games in 2013 for failing two drug tests for marijuana. Astros first basemen have a .533 OPS this season, third-worst in the majors.
Description: Houston SS Jonathan Villar won't start Wednesday's game versus Detroit. SOURCE: Evan Drellich, Houston Chronicle
Insight: He's dealing with a jammed thumb. It's possible we could see Villar (.250, 5 HR, 13 RBI) as a pinch hitter later in the game. The 23-year-old is on pace for 25 HR this season. Last year, he homered just once in 210 at bats.
Description: Houston starter Jarred Cosart allowed just one unearned run Monday in a loss to Detroit.
Insight: Cosart (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 K's) had the bad fortune of going up against last year's Cy Young winner Max Scherzer (8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 9 K's). Despite the loss, Cosart (1-3) was able to lower his ERA from 5.52 to a much more respectable 4.50. He's scheduled to throw again Saturday versus Baltimore.
Description: The Mariners touched up Astros starter Collin McHugh for six runs (five earned) on eight hits in four innings of work Sunday.
Insight: McHugh gave up just one run on five hits and struck out 19 batters in his first two starts (15 1/3 innings) this season, but he came back to reality on Sunday; the one in which he has a career 7.15 ERA in 66 2/3 innings.
Description: Astros right-hander Scott Feldman is hoping to return Friday against Baltimore after throwing a simulated game on Sunday. SOURCE: Houston Chronicle
Insight: It doesn't appear that he'll need a minor league rehab assignment. Feldman (2-1, 1.69 ERA) went on the DL about two weeks ago with biceps tendinitis. Colin McHugh (2-0, 2.79 ERA) has been filling in for him.
Description: George Springer brought home the game-winning run for Houston Friday against Seattle.
Insight: It came on a single to left with no outs in the 11th inning. The hit was Springer's lone highlight in what was otherwise a disastrous evening for the 24-year-old (1-for-6, 4 K's). All rookies go through growing pains so fantasy owners shouldn't panic even though Springer is hitting just .180 through his first 61 major league at bats.
Description: Astros LHP Brett Oberholtzer had a 3.04 ERA over his first four starts but he's allowed 12 earned runs on 19 hits in his last 8 1/3 innings.
Insight: Oberholtzer had a 2.24 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in 64 1/3 innings after joining the rotation last season and started off well this year, but things have gone off the rails for him. After giving up 11 hits and six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Nationals Wednesday, the 24-year-old has a 5.63 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP.
Description: Astros outfielder George Springer has gone 8-for-47 (.170) with 15 Ks since being called up on April 16.
Insight: Springer was arguably the best player in minor league baseball last season and was absolutely crushing it at Triple-A Oklahoma City before his callup (.353, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 4 SB in 13 games). However, he has failed to carry that over to the majors. We'll let the 24-year-old get to 100 plate appearances before we panic.
Description: For the second straight start, Astros right-hander Collin McHugh was nearly unhittable Sunday in a win over Oakland.
Insight: McHugh (8 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 7 K's) came within one out of his first complete game. Through two starts, McHugh's strikeout rate is off the charts (11.15 K/ 9 IP) and opponents are hitting .100 against him. He'll be on the mound next Sunday against Seattle.
Description: According to Brian McTaggart of mlb.com, Astros reliever Jesse Crain has bursitis in his elbow and is out indefinitely.
Insight: Crain had biceps surgery last October and was expected to return in early May, but that timeline is no longer applicable. He'll be shut down from throwing for 7-10 days. The Astros will continue to use a committee of Josh Fields, Anthony Bass and Chad Qualls at closer.
Description: The Astros went to Josh Fields for a second straight save chance on Wednesday but he couldn't close out the Mariners.
Insight: Fields gave up a walk-off three-run homer to Kyle Seager. Three members of Houston's bullpen -- Fields, Anthony Bass and Chad Qualls -- have recorded a save this year, and the Astros will probably stick with a committee after Fields' blown save on Wednesday.
Description: Astros right-hander Collin McHugh picked up his first major league victory Tuesday against Seattle.
Insight: McHugh was spectacular, fanning 12 hitters and allowing just three hits in 6 2/3 shutout innings. He was called up Monday to replace the injured Scott Feldman (biceps tendinitis) in the starting rotation.
Description: Houston has placed right-hander Scott Feldman on the 15-day disabled list. SOURCE: Brian McTaggart, MLB.com
Insight: Feldman (2-1, 1.69 ERA) has been dealing with tendinitis in his right bicep. Collin McHugh was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City in the corresponding roster move. He'll get the start Tuesday against Seattle.
Description: Houston catcher Jason Castro is not in the starting lineup for Saturday's game against Oakland.
Insight: No injury, normal catcher rest with a day game after a night game. castro has hit three homers, but is struggling with a .216 average. carlos Corporan will start behind the plate, but his .190 batting average should be enough to keep fantasy owners at a distance.
Description: Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar is sitting out for the first time this season Wednesday against Kansas City.
Insight: Villar is just one for his last 19 and has now struck out in 32.6 percent of his at bats this year. Marwin Gonzalez is playing shortstop on Wednesday and could see more time there in the future if Villar's struggles continue.
Description: George Springer will make his major league debut Wednesday against the Royals. He's batting second and starting in right field. SOURCE: Howard Chen, Comcast Sportsnet Houston
Insight: Springer was arguably the best player in minor league baseball last season and was absolutely crushing it at Triple-A Oklahoma City before his callup (.353, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 4 SB in 13 games). If Springer lives up to the hype, he could be a candidate for Rookie of the Year.
Description: The Astros designated Lucas Harrell for assignment to make room for George Springer on the 40-man roster.
Insight: It's not really surprising, as Harrell went 0-3 with a 9.49 ERA and a 2.27 WHIP in three starts after going 6-17 with a 5.86 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP in 153 2/3 innings last year. Jerome Williams may take his spot in the rotation.
Description: The George Springer era is about to begin. The Astros will promote their top prospect for Wednesday's game, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.
Insight: Springer hit .353 with three homers and four steals in his first 13 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He had 37 longballs and 45 steals to go with a .303 average in the minors last season and needs to be owned in all fantasy leagues.
Description: Astros LHP Brett Oberholtzer took a tough-luck loss Sunday at Texas.
Insight: He gave up five hits and one earned run, didn't walk anyone and struck out seven in seven innings, but Houston didn't have a baserunner reach second base and lost 1-0. Oberholtzer had a 2.24 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in 64 1/3 innings after joining the rotation last season and is 0-3 with a 3.50 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP in 2014.
Description: Houston's top minor league prospect, George Springer, is batting .290 with a .937 OPS in his first week at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Insight: Springer is expected to make the jump to the big club sometime around June 1. After hitting 37 homers with 108 RBI last season between Double-A and Triple-A, he should take over in right field and be the Astros everyday starter. Make sure you have a space available on your roster for this slugger.
Description: Astros outfielder Chris Carter is 0-for-8 with six strikeouts against Texas starter Yu Darvish.
Insight: Carter led the league in strikeouts last season with 212 and is doing the same this year. He's a home run hitter, with 29 long balls last season, but it comes at an expensive price to your team batting average. Obviously, avoid him on Friday.
Description: Houston third baseman Matt Dominguez is not normally on many fantasy radar screens, but he's faced Texas ace Yu Darvish 11 times and has taken him deep three times.
Insight: Dominguez is an all or nothing option. He doesn't hit for much of an average, but can hit the long ball. He's batting just .129 in 10 games this season, but does have a pair of homers after blasting 21 last season.
Description: Houston catcher Jason Castro blasted a solo homer Thursday at Toronto.
Insight: The former first-round pick broke out with 18 homers in 435 at-bats last season, though he needed a .351 BABIP to hit .276 due to a 26.5% strikeout rate. He's batting just .179 so far but has two homers.
Description: Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler (illness) will return to the lineup Wednesday, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.
Insight: A bout of gastroenteritis landed Fowler in the hospital and caused him to miss four straight games before pinch hitting Tuesday. Fowler is hitting .462 with four extra-base hits and five runs this season.
Description: Houston center fielder Dexter Fowler (illness) will sit out Sunday and likely won't play Monday, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.
Insight: Fowler (6-for-12, four extra-base hits) was in the hospital with gastroenteritis on Saturday. He was released but hasn't rejoined the team yet and manager Bo Porter said he's not a given to play in the Toronto series, which begins Tuesday.
Description: According to the Houston Chronicle, Astros reliever Jesse Crain (shoulder) thinks early May is a realistic goal for his return to the majors.
Insight: Crain experienced shoulder soreness following his first bullpen session late last week. He had biceps surgery last October. The 32-year-old could take over the closer role (currently a committee) once he's healthy.
Description: According to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, George Springer's agent and the player's union are considering filing a grievance against the Astros for manipulating Springer's service clock.
Insight: Last week, Houston demoted Springer less than 24 hours after a story leaked about him turning down the team's offer of a seven-year contract extension. Springer didn't have a very good spring training (.161 AVG in 31 at bats) but it's hard to ignore his tremendous upside. He'll be in the majors at some point during the 2014 campaign.
Description: Astros manager Bo Porter said he will enter the season with a closer by committee, according to Brian McTaggart of mlb.com.
Insight: Chad Qualls will most likely get the first crack, with Matt Albers factoring in until Jesse Crain returns from biceps surgery in May. Fantasy owners should avoid this situation entirely if possible.
Description: The Astros have re-assigned top prospect George Springer to minor league camp. SOURCE: Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Houston Chronicle
Insight: He was batting just .161 in 31 at bats before his demotion. Springer, who recently turned down a seven-year, $23 million contract extension, is expected to arrive in the big leagues sometime after the Super Two cutoff in June.
Description: Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler was scratched from Wednesday's lineup with a stiff neck, according to Brian McTaggary of mlb.com. The move was precautionary and Fowler should be back in the lineup soon.
Insight: The 27-year-old Fowler hit .263 with 12 homers, 19 steals, 71 runs and a .776 OPS with Colorado last season, but his numbers were boosted by a .311 average and an .874 OPS at Coors Field. In fact, he owns a career .298 average, 27 homers and an .880 OPS at Coors compared to .241, 13 HR and a .694 OPS everywhere else. His pronounced splits make him unlikely to duplicate last season's numbers with the Astros.
Description: Astros reliever Jesse Crain (2-3, 0.740 ERA, 1.145 WHIP with the White Sox) has a strained right calf and figures to start the season on the disabled list, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.
Insight: Crain and Chad Qualls were expected to battle for the closer's role for Houston, but it appears that Qualls will get the first shot by default.
Description: The Astros have designated former first-round pick Brett Wallace for assignment.
Insight: With Wallace out of the picture, it looks like Chris Carter (.223, 29 HR, 82 RBI) will get most of the playing time at first base this season. Wallace hit .221 with 13 HR and 36 RBI in 79 appearances for Houston in 2013.
Description: Astros top prospect Mark Appel had an emergency appendectomy earlier this week. He's hoping to be back by the start of spring training. SOURCE: Brian McTaggart, MLB.com
Insight: Appel was drafted first overall by Houston in last year's MLB Draft. In ten Single-A appearances in 2013, Appel was 3-1 with a 3.79 ERA. ESPN's Keith Law recently named Appel the 11th-best prospect in baseball. He was ranked Houston's second-best prospect behind shortstop Carlos Correa (No. 4 overall). Appel is likely to begin the year in Double-A.
Description: The Astros acquired outfielder Dexter Fowler on Monday for Brandon Barnes and righthander Jordan Lyles. SOURCE: Rockies on Twitter
Insight: Fowler got off to a hot start lin Colorado last season but injuries led to a second half slump (.221 AVG after the All-Star break). It will be interesting to see how this trade affects the progression of George Springer, who was arguably the best hitter in minor league baseball last season. Fowler and Springer both play center field.
Description: Houston starter Erik Bedard held the Yankees scoreless in seven innings Sunday at Minute Maid Park.
Insight: Bedard collected nine strikeouts in the outing. The Astros weren't able to provide Bedard with any run support and lost 5-1 in 14 innings. The 34-year-old from Canada will close out the 2013 campaign with an ERA of 4.59 in 32 appearances.
Description: Houston left fielder J.D. Martinez is questionable for Monday's game against Cincinnati with a sprained left wrist.
Insight: Martinez sprained his wrist about a month and a half ago and was activated on friday, but has yet to get an at-bat since his return. He'll be platooning with Robbie Grossman (.268, 4 HR, 21 RBI) the rest of the way.
Description: Astros catcher Jason Castro (cyst on the medial side of his right knee) is questionable for Monday's game against Cincinnati
Insight: He's swung a solid bat this season, hitting .276 with 18 HR and 56 RBI, but he aggravated the knee and has only played two games since Sept 2. With nothing to play for, Castro could sit for the remainder of the season.
Description: Astros rookie Jarred Cosart will be shut down for the remainder of the season, according to Astros beat writer Brian McTaggart.
Insight: Cosart has 35 walks and 33 strikeouts over 60 major league innings, but his ERA is just 1.95 and he gave up more than three runs in a game just once in 10 starts. If he can cut down on his walk total he'll start next season near the top of the Houston rotation.
Description: Astros rookie Brett Oberholtzer lost Saturday's game to Oakland despite allowing just one earned run over six innings.
Insight: Oberholtzer was coming off his first career shutout his last time out. The 24-year-old former eighth-round pick has a stellar 2.65 ERA in 54 1/3 innings this season but with a 4.45 ERA over 170 innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City the last two years, his major league success is unlikely to last.
Description: Astros center fielder Brandon Barnes had a big night Tuesday against Minnesota.
Insight: Barnes (.245, 7 HR, 36 RBI) was responsible for five of Houston's six runs with three coming on a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth inning. The three-run blast was his first homer in almost a month (August 9th against Texas). Barnes' days in center field could be numbered with top prospect George Springer (37 HR, 45 SB in the minor leagues this season) likely to start there next season.
Description: Astros catcher Jason Castro's MRI revealed a cyst on the medial side of his right knee. SOURCE: Mark Berman, Fox 26 Houston
Insight: The catcher had ACL surgery on the same knee two years ago, but Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said Castro does not have structural damage and is day-to-day. Luhnow said the MRI results were "better than we expected."
Description: Astros catcher Jason Castro left Monday's game with a right knee sprain and is doubtful for Tuesday's game against Minnesota.
Insight: Castro had ACL surgery on the same knee two years ago. The 26-year-old has broken out with 35 doubles, 18 homers, 56 RBI and an .852 OPS this year, so it would be a shame if he had to miss the rest of the season.
Description: Astros catcher Jason Castro left Monday's game with a right knee sprain, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
Insight: Castro had ACL surgery on the same knee two years ago. The 26-year-old has broken out with 35 doubles, 18 homers, 56 RBI and an .852 OPS this year, so it would be a shame if he had to miss the rest of the season.
Description: Astros rookie Jarred Cosart continues to flirt with disaster without actually experiencing it. He walked five batters and gave up seven hits in six innings Wednesday at Chicago but only allowed one run.
Insight: Cosart has 26 walks and 25 strikeouts over 51 innings, but his ERA is just 1.59. That success won't last unless he cuts down on the free passes.
Description: Houston lefthander Dallas Keuchel threw seven shutout innings Sunday in a no-decision against the Blue Jays.
Insight: Keuchel (5-7, 4.82 ERA) had been in line for the win but as usual, the Astros bullpen let the lead slip away in the ninth inning. The 25-year-old has lasted seven innings or longer in two out of his last three starts.
Description: Houston third baseman Matt Dominguez had a monster day at the plate Sunday against the Angels. He went 4-for-5 with a homer, three RBI and two runs.
Insight: Dominguez is hitting just .237 with a .665 OPS, but his 16 homers and 60 RBI are useful for NL-only owners who only have Matt Carpenter, Pedro Alvarez, Chris Johnson, Hanley Ramirez, Martin Prado, Ryan Zimmerman, Pablo Sandoval and the injured David Wright to work with at third base.
Description: Houston catcher Jason Castro is 6-for-9 with a home run against Oakland starter Bartolo Colon.
Insight: Castro has been a pleasant surprise this season batting .272 with 14 homers, 44 RBI and a .806 OPS - all career highs. He's worthy of a start on Tuesday even against the tough Colon, if he plays. he's dealing with a sore hip.
Description: Houston second baseman Jose Altuve missed Monday's game versus Texas because of lingering quad tightness. SOURCE: Brian Smith, Houston Chronicle
Insight: Altuve has been dealing with this injury for the past couple weeks. The 5-foot-5 second baseman is hoping to avoid the disabled list. For now, Jake Elmore will get most of the reps at second base.
Description: Earlier this week, Astros prospect George Springer became the first minor league player since Grant Desme in 2009 to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same season. SOURCE: Ryan Boyer, NBC Sports
Insight: ESPN's Jim Callis rated Springer as the tenth-best prospect in baseball at the beginning of August. Even if Springer (.304, 31 HR, 93 RBI, 38 SB in 114 games for Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City this season) doesn't get called up in September, he should be Houston's starting center fielder in 2014.
Description: Houston shortstop Jonathan Villar left Tuesday's game against Boston due to a sprained left thumb and has yet to return to the diamond.
Insight: Villar doesn't hit for average (.245) or power (.646 OPS), but he is overflowing with speed. He's stolen 10 bases in just 15 games. He was expected to miss a couple of days and could return at any time.
Description: After missing the last two games, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve will return to the lineup for Saturday's game with Minnesota
Insight: He missed three of Houston's last five games because of quad tightness. He's put together a decent season (.284, 4 HR, 34 RBI, 42 runs, 26 steals), but fantasy owners were hoping he'd take the next step after a solid 2012.
Description: Houston third baseman Matt Dominguez filled up the stat sheet Wednesday in a win against the Orioles.
Insight: Dominguez slammed four hits in the contest including his 14th jack of the season. The 23-year-old leads the team in RBI (54) and is second in home runs. Still, his fantasy value is hindered by his low batting average (.236).
Description: The Astros have scratched Erik Bedard from his start Wednesday but he hasn't been traded, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Brett Oberholtzer will make the start instead at Baltimore.
Insight: Bedard has lost all five starts this month but he has posted an ERA of 3.99 or lower in every month since May. Perhaps they are trying to save him for a home start -- he's 2-2 with a 2.79 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP at Minute Maid Park and 1-6 with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP on the road.
Description: Astros skipper Bo Porter said Tuesday that he will use a closer by committee following the trade of Jose Veras to the Detroit Tigers, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
Insight: Jose Cisnero has been Houston's most successful reliever this season besides Veras, so it's likely he's the frontrunner, but he has allowed seven earned runs in 6 2/3 innings this month so Porter isn't going to just hand him the job right away.
Description: Houston first baseman Brett Wallace has hit .264 with six doubles, one triple, six homers and 18 RBI in 26 games since the team recalled him from the minors.
Insight: Wallace is a former first-round pick who is already on his fourth organization and is a career .245 hitter with 22 HR in 824 at-bats. We're skeptical of his ability to continue what he's doing recently -- his K/BB this year is 42/6.
Description: Astros starter Jarred Cosart walked five batters in six innings Sunday at Toronto, but he also allowed just one earned run and four hits.
Insight: In three major league starts, the 23-year-old has posted a 0.86 ERA in 21 innings, but he does have a bit of a control problem. He walked 4.84 batters per nine with Triple-A Oklahoma City this season and has issued 11 free passes since getting the callup to Houston.
Description: Astros starter Jordan Lyles has given up 35 hits and 24 earned runs over his last 26 innings.
Insight: Lyles went 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in seven starts from May 17 to June 18, but he has come back to reality over his last five turns. He gave up 10 runs (nine earned) on eight hits over four innings Sunday against the Mariners.
Description: Astros starter Erik Bedard asked to come out of the game Saturday against Seattle despite being just eight outs away from his first career no-hitter. SOURCE: Associated Press
Insight: "I've had three shoulder surgeries," Bedard told reporters after the game. "I'm not going over 110. I'd rather pitch a couple more years than face another batter." According to ESPN stats and information, Bedard is the first starter in 21 years to give up two or more runs without allowing a hit (minimum of six innings).
Description: In one of the more bizarre outcomes of the season, Houston lefthander Erik Bedard struck out ten and walked five over 6 1/3 hitless innings Saturday against the Mariners.
Insight: Yes, you read that correctly. Bedard exited the game with the no-hitter still in tact. Despite not allowing a hit, Bedard did allow three runs, though only one of the runs was earned (Jason Castro allowed two passed balls). Michael Saunders broke up the no-no with a two-run double in the seventh inning. That ended up being Seattle's only hit of the night. Even with just the one hit, the Mariners were able to win 4-2.
Description: The Astros have signed second baseman Jose Altuve to a four-year contract extension through 2017 with options for 2018 and 2019.
Insight: Altuve's deal is for $12.5 million and includes a $6 million option for 2018 and a $6.5 million option for 2019. The 23-year-old is hitting .280 with three homers, 36 runs and 21 steals this season.
Description: Astros starter Jarred Cosart enjoyed a spectacular debut Friday against the Rays.
Insight: The 23-year-old lost his no-hit bid in the seventh inning. He finished the evening with two strikeouts and three walks in eight shutout frames. Outdueling a Cy Young winner (David Price) in your major league debut is pretty impressive. The Astros were planning to send Cosart back down to Triple-A after the game but now they might want to keep him in Houston and see what he can do.
Description: Despite posting incredible numbers in Triple-A, the Astros are in no rush to call up top prospect George Springer. SOURCE: Brian T. Smith, Houston Chronicle
Insight: The 23-year-old entered the day with seven homers, five steals, 17 RBI and a .412 average in his first 15 games with Oklahoma City. It's going to be pretty hard to justify keeping Springer in the minors if he continues to produce at this level. At the latest, he'll arrive with the rest of the call-ups when rosters expand on September 1st.
Description: Houston first baseman Brett Wallace hammered four hits Wednesday in a loss to St. Louis.
Insight: Not a bad effort for a guy who has spent most of the season in Triple-A. Obviously, Wallace (.225, 3 HR, 11 RBI) still has a long way to go in his quest for fantasy relevance. Wednesday was definitely a step in the right direction, though.