Astros RHP day-to-day with forearm discomfort

    Cristian Javier was set to throw a bullpen session today in advance of his next scheduled start on Tuesday, but Astros manager Joe Espada told reporters (including Matt Kawahara of the Houston Chronicle) that “a little forearm discomfort” led to Javier’s bullpen being scrapped.  The right-hander was deemed as day to day for now, though it would certainly seem like his next start will be pushed back or skipped altogether, and naturally any forearm-related injury will be monitored closely by team doctors.

    While the best-case scenario is that Javier’s soreness goes away in a couple of days, even a minimal 15-day stint on the injured list might also be considered a relative win considering how serious forearm problems can often result in much longer absences.  That said, even 15 days without Javier would be a blow to an Astros team that has already been stretched thin by pitching injuries this season, including a prior IL stint for Javier himself — the righty missed a little over three weeks recovering from a neck strain.

    Javier has a solid but unspectacular 3.89 ERA over 34 2/3 innings this season, and his Statcast metrics are almost all below average apart from strong hard-hit ball rates.  Javier didn’t look sharp in allowing four runs over four innings against the Angels in his most recent outing last Tuesday, and Kawahara noted that Javier’s average fastball velocity in that start was 1.5mph below his mean number for the season.

    It could be that if even the forearm injury isn’t overly serious, the Astros could consider giving Javier a 15-day IL stint just as a way to fully reset himself and get healthy after his inconsistent start to the season.  This tactic would also, however, put more pressure on a rotation that is trying to navigate a stretch of 29 games in 30 games.  The only off-day of that gauntlet just took place last Thursday, and the Astros have 10 games remaining before their next scheduled off-day on June 6.

    In the event that Javier was either on a proper IL trip or was just held out in day-to-day form, Houston will have to make up two starts.  Veteran Eric Lauer was just signed to a minor league deal last week and could be a candidate to step into the rotation on a short-term basis, or both of Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti could remain in the rotation.  Ronel Blanco’s return from suspension looked like it would push one of Brown or Arrighetti out of the regular starting mix, but if Javier is going to miss some time, an extra arm will be required.

    Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, and Blanco form a sturdy top three in the rotation.  Elsewhere on the injured list, Luis Garcia (Tommy John surgery) and Lance McCullers Jr. (forearm tendon surgery) are expected to make their 2024 debuts closer to midseason, and Jose Urquidy is dealing with some forearm soreness of his own that developed during a recent minor league rehab outing.

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