Matt Albers (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)
Matt Albers and Josh Fields are two very important parts of the Houston Astros bullpen in 2014. Neither was available for Thursday night’s game against the Oakland A’s. It did not truly matter for that one game, but Albers and Fields are two arms that manager Bo Porter will be relying on a lot for the remainder of the season.
Albers is battling shoulder stiffness, and Thursday’s game was the third straight one he missed. At this point, it doesn’t appear that a trip to the disabled list is in order for the right-hander, but that could change if we don’t see Albers pitch over the weekend. Porter simply cannot be a man down in an already taxed bullpen. Josh Zeid would be the likely candidate for promotion to replace Albers if the need arises.
"“The longer we go, that risk can increase,” Porter said. “This is the third day, so I’m not going to jump the gun yet. We’ll see how he responds to treatment and hopefully things will work themselves out.”Albers, 31, declined to speak about the shoulder issue. He has been in the Astros’ mix at closer this season, often pitching the eighth inning and leading the team with three holds."
Fields on the other hand was just receiving a much needed day off on Thursday after pitching three days in a row. What has become clear over the first few weeks of the season, is that Fields is a hard thrower who can get batters out late in games. I would expect him to return to his ninth inning role without incident.