What’s new with the Astros? Bullpen workhorse Wilton Lopez is the latest Astro to be put on the 15 day disabled list. Lopez is suffering from what the team is calling a sprained right elbow. Lopez has a 3-0 record and a 3.28 ERA in 32 relief appearances for the year. He has been arguably the most dependable arm out of Brad Mills’ bullpen this season. For that reason, Lopez has been worked harder than most Astros fans would have preferred. Mills has repeatedly called on Lopez in key situations and the workload has finally caught up with him. Fernando Abad was re-instated from the disabled list to fill the open roster spot.
Abad and Rhiner Cruz, two of the Astros least effective relievers this season, both saw extended action in last night’s loss to the Rangers. Abad has served up four homeruns in only 10 & 1/3 innings of work. Cruz gave up a longball to Mitch Moreland in last night’s game and has allowed 12 earned runs in his last four outings. Cruz has seen his WHIP balloon to 1.75 and his ERA currently stands at 7.25. Both pitchers could be on their way out. As a Rule 5 pick, a move for Cruz could be a permanent one. With Bud Norris seemingly doubtful for tomorrow’s game the Astros will probably need to call up a starter. Abad or Cruz could become a casualty at that point. Neither has proven to be dependable and I think they have both been given plenty of opportunities to prove themselves. In my opinion, it’s time to move on and give someone else a chance.
The Astros quest to claim the final Silver Boot series took a serious hit with last night’s loss. The Rangers now have a 3-1 lead in the season series, meaning the Astros not only need to win the next two games but also overcome a run differential of eleven. For those of you who are not familiar with the soccer-like tie-breaker that governs the Silver Boot rivalry, if both teams win three games apiece then the team with the most overall runs scored is awarded the trophy.
The Astros caught a break this time around with Josh Hamilton unlikely to play in the series. Hamilton was hospitalized Friday morning with an intestinal virus. The Rangers pitching staff is also decimated by injuries with Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Alexei Ogando, and Koji Uehara all on the disabled list. The Astros also have their share of injuries. Travis Buck, Carlos Lee, and Fernando Martinez are all currently on the D.L. in addition to the aforementioned injuries to Wilton Lopez and Bud Norris. However, Lee is scheduled to rejoin the Astros in time to play in tomorrow’s series finale.
The Astros will return home after tomorrow’s game and begin a ten game homestand on Monday. The Royals and Indians visit Minute Maid Park for three games each to finish out the 2012 interleague schedule. The San Diego Padres will close out the homestand with a four-game set.