Astros right-hander share a tragic news regarding health

Astros right-hander predicts ongoing injury issues following a setback

The Astros have struggled with rotation depth all season long, and they continue to receive unwanted developments in this area.

According to Brian McTaggart of, general manager Dana Brown stated on Sunday during an appearance on SportsTalk 790 AM that righty J.P. France, who is on the minor league disabled list with a shoulder problem, recently experienced a setback after working his way up to long tosses. A schedule for France’s return to the mound is not yet available.

For the most part of the 2023 season, the 29-year-old Frenchman was an unexpected rotation savior in Houston. Despite Houston’s multiple ailments, he started 23 games for the ‘Stros, recorded a solid 3.83 ERA, and ended up fourth on the team in innings pitched (136 1/3).
France gave up five or more runs in three of his final six outings, including a 10-run loss to the Red Sox in late August, suggesting that he was starting to falter. In his first five starts of the current season, he also posted an ERA above 7.00, raising his total ERA from his previous 11 big league outings to 7.71.

That rocky stretch notwithstanding, the ongoing injury trouble for France is a notable hit to Houston’s rotation depth. He was quite strong through his first 17 starts last season, and for a club that entered the year with Justin Verlander, Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. all on the injured list, France represented an important fifth or sixth option on the staff.

Instead, he’s been limited to just 29 innings between the majors and minors combined, and it’s not clear when or whether he’ll pitch his way back into the team’s plans.

There’s better news on right-hander Jake Bloss, who exited his major league debut this weekend after 3 2/3 innings and was subsequently placed on the injured list with discomfort in his right shoulder. Manager Joe Espada said Sunday in his pregame media session, per SportsTalk 790, that an MRI revealed only inflammation in the young right-hander’s shoulder.

He’ll go “a few” days without throwing, but the absence of any structural damage is a welcome relief for the organization.

The 23-year-old Bloss was Houston’s third-round pick just last summer and raced through the minors — in part because of the team’s litany of rotation injuries but also because of outstanding performance. In a dozen minor league starts between High-A (four starts) and Double-A (eight starts) prior to his promotion, Bloss posted a 1.74 ERA through 62 innings.

Bloss’ placement on the injured list brings Houston back down to four healthy starting pitchers on the 40-man roster, however. He joins Verlander, Garcia, McCullers, Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy on the major league injured list (plus France in Triple-A).

Framber Valdez, Hunter Brown, Ronel Blanco and Spencer Arrighetti are locked into spots for the moment, but the Astros will still need to stretch further to bring up another arm or rely on a bullpen game or two while Bloss and Verlander mend. Verlander, Espada noted yesterday, has yet to resume throwing. There’s no firm timetable for when he might begin a throwing program or return to the Houston roster.

Elsewhere on the injury front, it seems backup catcher Victor Caratini will be out at least three to four weeks (per Brown in that same SportsTalk 790 appearance). He hit the injured list with a left hip flexor strain last week, which prompted the Astros to bring up catcher Cesar Salazar from Triple-A Sugar Land. That timeline from Brown could put Caratini roughly in line with the All-Star break, barring any setbacks.

Caratini has quietly been a solid option backing up young Yainer Diaz. His .248/.287/.400 batting line is right in line with the league average after weighting for his home park (by measure of wRC+). That level of production outpaces even most starting catchers around the league, leaving Caratini looking like a nice pickup on the two-year, $12M contract he signed over the winter.

Lastly, righty Kendall Graveman tells Matt Kawahara of the Houston Chronicle that he’s not giving up hope of a late-season return following his January shoulder surgery. While Graveman acknowledged the possibility is “remote,” he’s midway through a throwing program and could begin throwing off a mound sometime in early August. He’s currently throwing on flat ground from a distance of 90 feet.

Graveman, 33, also offered further specifics on the nature of his surgery. (The team did not provide any details at the time of its announcement.)

The right-hander had a pair of anchors installed in his labrum in addition to a cleanup of his rotator cuff. Graveman provides further details and offers plenty of quotes on his outlook and mindset that Astros fans, in particular, will want to check out in full.

Graveman pitched to a combined 3.12 ERA in 66 1/3 innings between the White Sox and Astros during the previous season. He also had a 23.4% strikeout rate, a 12.8% walk rate, 13 holds, and eight saves. While Brown stated at the time of the surgery that the Astros wouldn’t pursue a stronger bullpen in free agency in light of Graveman’s probable season-ending injury, the organization signed Josh Hader to a five-year deal three days after revealing that Graveman had undergone the procedure.

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