Houston Astros Transactions: Oberholtzer, Springer, and Tucker
By Eric Huysman
The Houston Astros are in still in first place in the AL West which is the good news. The bad news is that since the ten-game winning streak, the Astros have gone 2-6. They lost outfielder George Springer to a concussion after he ran into the wall in the Rangers series, and the pitching has not been as consistent as it was during the streak. Some of the players who were hurt and couldn’t work will be activated in time for Wednesday’s game versus the Giants.
LHP Brett Oberholtzer will be activated from the DL, and LHP Kevin Chapman will be sent back to Triple-A Fresno.
This move was expected because Oberholtzer was named as the starter for Wednesday’s game. The question was who would be sent down. Most Astros fans probably wanted a name like Joe Thatcher or Sam Deduno to be released, especially after Deduno game up 8 runs in 4.2 innings in his last start.
During Tuesday’s game, I posted on Twitter that Kevin Chapman was in the game, but would he be the guy to go down when Oberholtzer was activated. Chapman was a third left-handed pitcher in the Astros bullpen which can be useful, but the Astros don’t want to give up on Deduno yet. Plus Deduno has pitched better out of the bullpen, versus his two starts in the Astros rotation.
Despite Deduno’s 7.00 ERA, Chapman appeared to be the odd man out. The Astros hope that Oberholtzer is here to stay, with the revolving door at the fifth spot in the rotation so far in 2015. Besides Deduno, Asher Wojciechowski and Brad Peacock have made starts for the Astros as the fifth pitcher. Oberholtzer is 25-years-old and has missed the first month plus with a blister, will look to get the Astros back on track after losing two games in a row.
From Evan Drellich’s article; “Manager A.J. Hinch said he expected Oberholtzer in the 85-90 pitch range on Wednesday against the Giants after he threw 72 pitches in the second of his two rehab starts, the last of them on May 5 — a week ahead of Wednesday’s start.”
Oberholtzer’s first start was bad as he gave up eight runs, but he recovered in his second outing with Fresno. In his last start where he threw 72 pitches, he pitched 5.1 innings/ 4 hits/ 0 runs/ 9 strikeouts. The Astros need Oberholtzer to have a good game because the bullpen has been used a lot recently with starters being knocked out early.
OF George Springer will be activated off the 7-day DL, and Robbie Grossman will be optioned to Triple-A.
Monday afternoon, Brian McTaggart reported that George Springer would play one game with the Corpus Christi Hooks, and then possibly return to the lineup on Wednesday. With Springer’s impending return, the question was which player would be sent down? I asked Astros fans prior to last night’s game that they thought would be sent down, and most of them said Preston Tucker because he needed at-bats at this age versus sitting on the bench. A few people did say Robbie Grossman, but this still caught most people off guard.
George Springer will be in right field, and Jake Marisnick will be in centerfield on a daily basis. That leaves leftfield open for Colby Rasmus or Preston Tucker. Hopefully, Preston Tucker gets the majority of the starts in left field, but Rasmus is trying to build up his stats this year for a contract next year. So how does A.J. Hinch split playing time between four players, all wanting starting jobs? With Chris Carter struggling this year, the Astros could be thinking about playing Tucker at first base.
However, when the Preston Tucker was about to make his debut, Astros manager Hinch said that he will play leftfield, and a little in rightfield, but will not play first base. This quote was via Jose de Jesus Ortiz. This quote takes Tucker playing at first base out of the equation, even though Astros fans would like to see Chris Carter benched. I see Tucker getting more playing time than Colby Rasmus, who will probably give outfielders as well as Gattis a day off. Rasmus needs to understand that he is a utility outfielder at this point in his career. Tucker could play 5-6 games a week while Rasmus would play 3-4 games a week, at least for now.
It will be nice to see what Tucker can do while Springer is in the lineup. Tucker has shown some ability, despite the statistical evidence. As I mentioned before, even if he struggles and gets sent down, it’s not the end of the world. One Mike Trout also struggled in his first cup of coffee with the Angels, and he turned out alright.
Next: Carlos Correa to AAA, What's Next?
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