Houston Astros reliever Josh Fields is nearly ready to be called up from Fresno after getting some extra work in at the Triple-A affiliate while recovering from a groin injury. According to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, Fields could be activated in the next couple of days, but needs to pitch on consecutive days before being called to join the team in Houston. Well, he pitched on Monday night in Fresno, going one scoreless inning while allowing a hit and a walk, and recording a strikeout.
If Fields pitches on Tuesday night for the Grizzlies, we could see Josh Fields joining the Houston Astros on Wednesday or on the off-day Thursday. Assuming he makes an appearance tonight, it would be likely that the move would not be made until Thursday to keep the extra reliever in Houston for the series finale with the Oakland Athletics. Having already pitched two consecutive days, Fields would be unavailable on Wednesday, and would take up a much-needed spot in the tired ‘Stros pen.
So that leads us to the big question: whose spot does Fields take? From that same article by Drellich, “Righthander Will Harris took Fields’ place on the roster…But Harris has options, and the Astros are not about to carry him over Fields, who is expected to be a central part of the bullpen.” As I wrote over the weekend however, Harris is on a bit of a streak, so would moving him from the roster just because he has options be the right move?
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The other option is left-handed relief specialist Joe Thatcher, who doesn’t have any options remaining. Yes, this would likely mean losing out on Thatcher for the rest of the season if he’s sent down, and he’s due $1M. The other side of the coin is that he’s only pitched in 2/3 of an inning in the first seven games, and has the highest ERA on the team (ok, so he allowed a run) at 13.50. In Sunday’s 14 inning contest with the Rangers, Thatcher came in to get an out but instead walked his one batter, who later came around to score. The bullpen is taxed, and his seven pitches that helped to tie the game sure didn’t help matters.
Harris is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and has provided five innings out of the ‘pen, which is tied with Sam Deduno for the most relief innings on the team, and also 1/3 of an inning more than starter Roberto Hernandez this season. Harris is the option that would benefit the team the most, but with options in tow, it’ll likely be Joe Thatcher that gets to stick around in Houston, at least for a little while longer.