Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated best-case scenario is unfolding for the Houston Astros.
While viewing the return of several injured players on the horizon, they also are witnessing an extraordinary first week from touted prospect Yordan Alvarez.
The Astros claimed the opener of their three-game series with the visiting Toronto Blue Jays 15-2 on Friday, and Alvarez again flashed his impressive power, finishing 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBI.
Alvarez will look to continue his hot streak when the teams meet again Saturday at Minute Maid Park.
The right-handed-batting designated hitter is the first player in franchise history with three home runs in his first four games, and he is 5-for-13 (.385). He is the youngest player (21 years, 352 days) with seven RBI over his first four games since Manny Machado in 2012.
Alvarez slugged 23 home runs in 56 games for Triple-A Round Rock this year prior to his promotion on Sunday.
With the Astros awaiting the return of All-Stars Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer from the 10-day injured list, Alvarez has provided some thump in their absence. He is displaying a quality approach at the plate.
"There's just a lot that he's doing right that starts with the right mindset and mental aptitude to be at this level at an early age," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Alvarez, who turns 22 on June 27. "So I applaud him for his approach to his at-bats and how he's not letting the third deck get to him, he's not letting hitting in the middle of the order get to him. He's crushing."
Astros left-hander Framber Valdez (2-2, 2.73 ERA) on Saturday will make his second start and 16th appearance on the season. He pitched effectively in his previous start, allowing one run on five hits with seven strikeouts over seven innings. He did not factor into the decision of a 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on June 8.
Valdez, who made his big-league debut Aug. 21, 2018, went 4-1 as a rookie and is 6-1 with a 2.30 ERA over six career starts for Houston.
Left-hander Clayton Richard (0-2, 7.04 ERA) will start for the Blue Jays in the middle game of the series.
Richard, making his fifth start of the season, will face the Astros for the first time since 2012. He is 1-1 with a 4.79 ERA over three career starts against Houston.
The Blue Jays endured a scare Friday when rookie third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took a pitch off the left hand in the first inning. Guerrero remained in the game briefly before departing with a left hand contusion. Subsequent X-rays were negative for Guerrero, who owns a .268/.333/.463 slash line with seven home runs and 19 RBI over his first 40 games.
"Anytime you get hit in the hand that's scary," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "The X-rays are negative, so that's good news. He'll be day-to-day, so we'll see how he feels (Saturday).
"He stayed in the game but then he felt like it got swollen a little bit. That's why we decided to take him out and get X-rays."
--Field Level Media
Astros' Alvarez takes aim at Jays again