The Astros made a few transactions today, beginning with another player being exchanged for cash. Travis Blackley was sent to the Rangers for a stack of bills. The lefty will join the Rangers’ AAA farm team, the Round Rock Express.
In other moves, the Astros sent reliever Jorge De Leon to AAA and recalled Marwin Gonzalez. The infielder is with the team in Oakland tonight and will be available on Bo Porter‘s bench. Gonzalez gives the Astros more infield flexibility as he can play second base when Jose Altuve needs a rest and he is also a legitimate backup for Jonathan Villar at shortstop.
Expect to see a decrease in playing time for Jake Elmore. He simply wasn’t getting the job done defensively at shortstop. Elmore could still see some action at second base and maybe even in leftfield.
With Gonzalez taking the roster spot vacated by a pitcher, the Astros are now down to 12 available arms. After operating with an 8-man bullpen for most of the season, the club is suddenly down to six. That is assuming that the 6-man rotation is still in affect.
I would expect Porter to go back to a 5-man rotation immediately. That would give him seven pitchers in the bullpen.
The way Porter likes to use his relievers in short bursts — six simply isn’t enough. Porter could go through six relievers in the span of two-thirds of an inning.
So the 6-man rotation looks like a thing of the past. The question is: Which one of the six will be sent to the bullpen? Surprisingly, all six have been doing a pretty good job. My guess is that Dallas Keuchel is the odd man out. Even though Keuchel has been far more effective as a starter than as a reliever, he just might be headed back to the ‘pen.
Another possibility is Erik Bedard. I am assuming that Porter would prefer to have at least two lefties in the bullpen and, currently, Kevin Chapman is the only southpaw in the mix. Brett Oberholtzer is the only other left-hander on the current staff and he too has been much more effective as a starter.
Oberholtzer appears to be a viable long term option as a starter for a team that is looking for guys to step up and stake a claim to a spot on next year’s roster. Bedard, on the other hand, probably isn’t part of the long term plan. Rumor has it that the veteran has already cleared waivers. Who knows? Maybe Bedard is the next player to be traded for a bundle of Benjamins.