Houston Astros reliever Josh Fields, who has been rehabbing in Triple-A Fresno, is set to re-join the team in Oakland on Friday, as Evan Drellich tweeted out after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss in Seattle.
Fields has accumulated six innings in five appearances for Fresno, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out three. He’s appeared in back-to-back games while rehabbing, but has not pitched since Monday, so expect him to be rested and ready-to-go for Friday’s game. With Fields on the team, the Astros will be carrying eight relievers and be down a bench player for the time being.
To make room for Fields, the Astros optioned utility man Jonathan Villar. With Houston this season, Villar has tallied one hit in thirteen at-bats for a batting average of .077. He has made it to the field in seven of the team’s 15 games, but two of those occasions were as a pinch-runner.
The most interesting part of this move is not the move itself, but what will happen when the team decides to go back to having seven relievers. Of the eight currently in tow, lefty specialist Joe Thatcher and the streaking Will Harris are potential candidates to be on the chopping block. Astros fans have their own opinions on who it should be, but the decision will be made by manager A.J. Hinch at a later date, possibly following the series in San Diego early next week.
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When the time comes to bring up another bench player, there are three likely options, and each provides something different. Since Villar was a utility player, the Houston Astros could look at Joe Sclafani, who, until this past Monday, had reached base in every game he had played dating back to July 4th of last season. He would have a minimal role in Houston, but an important one.
The second option would be Preston Tucker, whom I talked about yesterday. While the Astros have four outfielders on the roster already, Tucker may be the most deserving of a look in the big leagues. On Wednesday night with Fresno, he tallied his 18th rbi of the season and is currently batting .327 with five home runs.
The problem with both Sclafani and Tucker is that neither is on the 40-man roster, which would necessitate a player being removed before they could be added to the Astros. This is where the final option comes in, and he’s a familiar face. Jon Singleton is a good defensive first baseman with plenty of pop. While he struggled in the majors last season, he’s going to get another look at some point this season, and this could be the move that brings him up. Singleton is batting .308 with three home runs and nine rbi with Fresno.