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: Left-handed starter Erik Bedard has signed a minor-league deal with Tampa Bay.
Insight: Another team takes a shot at the talented, but never has reached his potential lefty. He hasn't recorded double-digit wins since 2007 and his ERA has been north of 4.50 over the past two seasons.
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.
Description: Astros pitcher Lucas Harrell will not make another start until after the All-Star break, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.
Insight: Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said Harrell has been removed from the rotation to "get his mind cleared." Harrell has a 5-9 record, a 5.04 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP this season after going 11-11 with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP in 2012. He's walking nearly one more batter per nine innings and allowing 0.7 more homers per nine than last season.
Description: Astros starter Bud Norris' WHIP is a little high at 1.37, but he is 6-7 with a 3.22 ERA.
Insight: Norris has posted a 2.29 ERA in 59 innings over his last nine starts. Norris has cut his HR/9 from 1.23 last season to 0.58 this year by posting a career-low 5.3 percent HR/FB. His line-drive rate is around the league average, but he has been unlucky with a .315 BABIP. A trade to a contender would surely raise his fantasy value even more.
Description: Astros center fielder Justin Maxwell has been placed on the 7-day disabled list with a concussion.
Insight: Maxwell missed nearly two months this year with a broken hand, and now he's back on the DL. He suffered a mild concussion Tuesday when he hit his face on the grass while trying to make a diving catch.
Description: Astros closer Jose Veras put two men on base in a one-run game Wednesday against St. Louis, but he worked out of the jam to pick up his 16th save.
Insight: Fantasy owners have to be thrilled with Veras' production. He has saved 53.3 percent of Houston's victories this year and has a 3.71 ERA and a 10.1 K/9 in 34 innings. He's an obvious trade candidate for a contender looking for middle relief help, however, so enjoy him while he's still a member of the Astros.
Description: Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez is just 1-for-8 versus Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo.
Insight: Dominguez has been hot this week, batting .333 in his last six games, but this isn't a good matchup. Even when there is a decent matchup, make sure to only use him at home where he is hitting .298 with eight home runs, 27 RBI and an .871 OPS.
Description: Astros starter Jordan Lyles turned in his third straight start of seven innings and two runs or less Tuesday against the Brewers in a 10-1 victory.
Insight: Lyles had an 8.36 ERA after his first three starts, but the righty is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA and a 33/10 K/BB in 44 2/3 innings over his last seven. The former prospect seems to be finally figuring things out.
Description: Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez went 2-for-3 with a homer and five RBI Tuesday against Milwaukee.
Insight: Dominguez is only hitting .236 with a .665 OPS, but he does have 10 homers and 40 RBI. Just be sure not to use him away from Minute Maid Park -- he's hitting .298 with eight home runs, 27 RBI and an .871 OPS at home, compared to .176 with two homers, 13 RBI and a .467 OPS on the road.
Description: The Astros have promoted top prospect 1B Jonathan Singleton to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Insight: After serving a 50-game suspension for failing a second drug test for marijuana, Singleton has hit .271 with five homers and a 1.024 OPS in 17 games with Class-A Quad Cities and Double-A Corpus Christi. Singleton, 21, could be in the majors later this season if he succeeds at Triple-A. We'll track his progress periodically.
Description: Astros starter Jordan Lyles is 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA and a 28/10 K/BB in 37 2/3 innings over his last six starts.
Insight: Lyles two-hit the Mariners and struck out 10 over seven scoreless frames Wednesday night in a no decision. The right-hander is a former top-100 prospect who seems to have put things together for the first time in his career. He's worth a look in AL-only leagues, and can be used in favorable matchups in deep mixed leagues.
Description: Astros starter Bud Norris fired six scoreless innings of four-hit baseball to beat the Angels Saturday night.
Insight: Norris has a 2.88 ERA over his last eight starts and a 3.39 ERA on the year. The right-hander's strikeout rate is a career-low 5.74, but he has limited the home runs this season and even has been a little unlucky with a .323 BABIP.
Description: Houston center fielder Justin Maxwell (hand) is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
Insight: Maxwell suffered a broken left hand in the last week of April. He took 20 swings in the cage Thursday and should be back in early June. He'll return to a .234 average, one homer and 22 strikeouts in 77 at-bats.
Description: Houston second baseman Jose Altuve went 3-for-5 in his return from the bereavement list Saturday against Pittsburgh.
Insight: While strikeout-prone sluggers Chris Carter and Carlos Pena offer some value in NL-only leagues, Altuve is the only Astros player most fantasy owners should own. He's batting .342 with two homers, 19 RBI, 17 runs and four steals.
Description: Houston second baseman Jose Altuve will return to the lineup Saturday against the Pirates, according.
Insight: Altuve (.333, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 17 runs) was placed on the bereavement list Tuesday morning due to the death of his grandmother. He also suffered a dislocated jaw Monday night, so the time off allowed him to heal. Get him back in your fantasy lineups.
Description: Houston second baseman Jose Altuve is expected to return to the lineup Saturday against the Pirates, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.
Insight: Altuve (.333, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 17 runs) was placed on the bereavement list Tuesday morning due to the death of his grandmother. He also suffered a dislocated jaw Monday night, so the time off will allow him to heal.
Description: Houston starter Philip Humber has been designated for assignment.
Insight: Even the Astros have to draw the line somewhere. Humber fell to 0-8 after Saturday's loss to Texas, watching his ERA skyrocket from 8.49 to 9.59 in the process. The perfect game Humber threw for the White Sox last April now seems like a distant memory.
Description: Astros outfielder Chris Carter is hitless in 10 previous at bats against Angels lefty Jason Vargas.
Insight: Carter leads Houston with eight homers and 18 RBI this season. Unfortunately, his batting average is hovering right around the Mendoza line (.212 in 33 games). Thursday would be a good day to leave Carter on the bench.
Description: Astros outfielder Rick Ankiel has been designated for assignment.
Insight: Ankiel has been pitiful at the plate this season. An astounding 56 percent of his at bats have resulted in strikeouts. Ankiel's career isn't over yet but it's definitely not a good sign when the Astros are cutting you loose.
Description: Astros lefthander Erik Bedard is heading back to the bullpen. SOURCE: Brian T. Smith, Houston Chronicle
Insight: Bedard began the season as a long relief man but Houston's lack of depth forced him to become a starter. He's 0-2 with a 9.98 ERA in five starts this season. Obviously, he has no fantasy value in either role.
Description: Houston starter Bud Norris allowed nine hits and five runs (three earned) in six innings Sunday against Boston.
Insight: Norris has a 22/13 K/BB in 30 innings this year. He has allowed three runs or fewer in five of his six starts but he gave up six runs in 2/3 of an inning in his worst start and has a 4.20 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP.
Description: If the Astros are looking for a little scoring punch, then minor leaguer George Springer could be the answer. He's batting .299 with six home runs and 16 RBI in his first 67 at-bats for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks.
Insight: Springer batted .302 with 24 homers between the California and Texas Leagues last season and might be worth a look with Justin Maxwell sidelined by injury.
Description: Astros starter Philip Humber was bombed for eight hits and eight earned runs in just 1/3 of an inning Saturday night against the Indians.
Insight: Houston has had a starter fail to get out of the first inning three times in the past five games. Humber's first three outings were strong, but his latest one offsets those. He's now 0-4 with a 6.63 ERA.
Description: Neither of Houston's starters the last two days have made it out of the first inning. Bud Norris only recorded two outs Wednesday while allowing five hits, three walks and six runs to the Athletics.
Insight: Norris had a 1.96 ERA and 1.09 WHIP after three starts, so he's worth holding onto for another turn or two to see if he can get regain his composure. Norris lasted one out longer than Erik Bedard, who gave up six runs in 1/3 of an inning Tuesday night.
Description: White Sox infielder Tyler Greene is 5-for-11 against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ with a pair of home runs and a 1.545 OPS.
Insight: Greene is one of Chicago's second base options with Gordon Beckham sidelined. He went 2-for-3 on Monday, but sat as Jeff Keppinger started on Tuesday. Greene should get the nod for Wednesday's game with this favorable matchup.
Description: Astros starter Philip Humber is 0-3, but he has a 2.89 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
Insight: Humber has allowed six earned in 18 2/3 innings, but Houston has scored just one run combined in his three starts. The right-hander had a 6.44 ERA and 1.54 WHIP last season, but he did have a 3.75 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 2011 and threw a perfect game last April for the White Sox.
Description: Astros starter Bud Norris beat the Rangers on Opening Day by going 5 2/3 innings and allowing two earned on five hits and three walks. He struck out five.
Insight: Norris has struck out just under 9.0 batters per nine innings the last three seasons but posted an ERA in the high fours in two of them. Despite the positive result Sunday, his outlook as a No. 1 starter in the AL West is bleak.
Description: Rick Ankiel is expected to be the starting right fielder for the Houston Astros this season. He is hitting .432 with four homers in 45 at-bats this spring.
Insight: Ankiel has recorded a batting average of .235 over the past three seasons as a part-time outfielder for Kansas City, Atlanta and Washington. The last time he had 400 at-bats in a season was 2008, when Ankiel had a .264 batting average, 25 homers and an .843 OPS in 413 at-bats.
Description: Astros outfielder Fernando Martinez could have to start the season on the disabled list with a left oblique injury. SOURCE: MLB.com
Insight: Martinez missed a week earlier this spring with lower back tightness. He was expected to serve as the fourth outfielder on Opening Day as a backup to Chris Carter, Jason Maxwell and Rick Ankiel.
Description: Houston left-hander Erik Bedard has been named the team's fifth starter, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.
Insight: Bedard went 4-5 with a 3.26 ERA and 1.16 WHIP at PNC Park last season as a member of the Pirates, but 3-9 with a 6.98 ERA and 1.82 WHIP on the road. Moving away from PNC and to the American League won't help.
Description: Astros righty Brad Peacock, who was acquired from Oakland in the Jed Lowrie trade, will serve as Houston's fourth starter. SOURCE: Brian T. Smith, Houston Chronicle
Insight: The 25-year-old Peacock had been traded in each of the last two offseasons, as he went from Washington to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez deal. He had a 6.01 ERA at Triple-A last season and shouldn't be owned anywhere but the deepest NL-only leagues.
Description: Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has confirmed that newly signed shortstop Ronny Cedeno will be the team's starter, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.
Insight: Tyler Greene, who is out of options, will not make the Opening Day roster. Cedeno is a career .247 hitter who doesn't hit for power or run much and has a negative career UZR. In other words, he's a perfect Astro.
Description: The Astros have optioned outfielder J.D. Martinez to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Insight: Martinez had 395 at-bats for the Astros last season and hit .241 with a .685 OPS. It looks like Houston will go with Chris Carter (16 HRs in 2012) in left field, Justin Maxwell in center and Fernando Martinez in right.
Description: The Astros will go with Bud Norris as the Opening Day starter.
Insight: Norris has struck out just under 9.0 batters per nine innings the last three seasons but posted an ERA in the high fours in two of them. Moving to the AL West and facing the opponent's best starter won't help.