Brett Oberholtzer‘s first three outings with the Astros came in relief. And in his first two appearances, he certainly did not offer up any relief.
But now that the Astros are using Oberholtzer as a starter, things have gone just a little better for the lefty. He took a 7.36 ERA into his first start last week against the Orioles and went seven scoreless innings allowing only three hits while striking out six for the win. But more importantly, he did something a lot of Astros pitchers have not been able to do this season; he did not allow any walks.
For a follow up tonight against the Red Sox in his first home start, Oberholtzer again went seven scoreless innings for the win. This time he allowed two hits along with four walks and two strikeouts to lower his ERA to 2.53. What might have began as just a spot start, looks like it could grow into a permanent rotation spot for the 24 year old.
Oberholtzer was acquired from the Braves two years ago in the Michael Bourn deal and almost got lost in the shuffle with all of the Astros’ pitching prospects. At least for the two starts so far, he has shown an ability to pitch deep into the game and limit the damage. Even though he only has five major league appearances, he looks comfortable on the mound.
Speaking of young players getting acclimated to the major leagues, Robbie Grossman has looked like a different player in this stint with the Astros. Grossman drove in L.J. Hoes with a fifth inning single tonight to put Houston on the board. On the season the outfielder is now hitting .250, but in recent weeks he has begun to do a better job of hitting the ball on the ground.
Hoes then came home again in the seventh inning for an insurance run on a perfectly executed Brandon Barnes squeeze bunt. While he is only hitting .227 on the season, Hoes has found himself in the middle of things since he was traded to the Astros. Tonight he had a double and a single and scored both runs.
Jonathan Villar raised his average to .216 in tonight’s game reaching base all three times with two singles and a walk. More importantly, Villar stole three bases.
Of course the game was not without some drama as Wesley Wright allowed a hit and a walk in the eighth inning. Josh Fields then came out of the bullpen to strike out Mike Napoli to end any possiblity of a threat. Fields then stayed on for the ninth inning striking out the side to earn his first major league save.