The Astros send a message with Oberholtzer’s demotion

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When Brett Oberholtzer woke up yesterday, he probably had the butterflies in his stomach from pitching against the New York Yankees. He probably felt confident with his spot in the Astros rotation after a few good starts in a row. He probably had a little extra swag with his recent success. So when he took the mound Saturday afternoon, Brett Gardner hit a double, he walked the next two hitters, after the first out is made Brian McCann hit a blast to right field for a grand slam. It wasn’t Oberholtzer’s day, and he was not happy with how the game was going.

It also didn’t help that Oberholtzer felt like he was getting squeezed by home plate umpire Rob Drake. Drake did not like how Oberholtzer would stare at him, and I’m sure Oberholtzer said some kind words back to him. So Drake was already agitated with Oberholtzer, so he was looking for a reason to get him out of there. In the second inning, after a home run by Astros’ killer Chris Young, Oberholtzer threw a ball that almost hit Alex Rodriguez.

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The problem with this was Jason Castro was looking for a ball on the outside of the plate and had to jump to try to catch the ball. With the fact that Drake knew that Oberholtzer was already frustrated, he saw this as Oberholtzer intentionally throwing at the hitter and threw Oberholtzer out of the game quickly. With the way that Oberholtzer did not even react to being tossed told me that he was slightly relieved to be thrown out.

When Oberholtzer reached the dugout, he threw his glove and a few cups that would drive Jose Altuve crazy with them not stacked properly. All the Astros players were standing by the railings of the dugout, so no one even talked to Oberholtzer to offer support. In my opinion, this was the Astros players and staff way of saying that they do not support what he just did.

Following the 9-6 loss to the Yankees, Hinch, and the Astros wasted no time by announcing that Oberholtzer was being demoted to Triple-A. Chandler Rome Tweeted that, “AJ announces Oberholtzer has been optioned to AAA.” Via Evan Drellich’s Tweet below Hinch stated, “I’d like to go on the record and say that’s not the way we operate around here. We’re disappointed.”

Earlier in the offseason, A.J. Hinch meet with the bloggers of Houston Astros fan sites. During that meeting, he mentioned that he would allow players to be who they are, as long as it is not affecting the team. Former CTH writer Ryan Gonzalez wrote about Hinch here Talking with the Astros New Manager, A.J. Hinch. Below is a quote from Gonzalez’s article.

"“You gotta let these guys be themselves. They got to this level being themselves in an environment that is high pressure, high volatility, highly competitive. That’s a huge statement that I’m going to say. And these guys can be themselves if they compete between the white lines at a level that I deem acceptable, that’s all I ask. Be yourself and be a pro, those are catchphrases that I’ll use a lot. I’ll also talk about being all in. If you’re all in, then who I hand the ball to in the 7th Inning doesn’t matter if he’s helping us win that game or who I hit when I pinch hit for somebody.We have a lot of bodies now, which is good… We’ve built it to where there is a little competition. And if you’re all in, and you really are all in, then you can be mad and come to my office and we can talk it through. But when we go out on that field, then we are 25 strong.”- A.J. Hinch via Ryan Gonzalez."

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If you read this statement by Hinch, you can see why Oberholtzer was demoted pretty quickly. Oberholtzer did not handle the situation the way that the team handles things, and a message had to be sent. While Oberholtzer said that he did not intentionally throw at Rodriguez, he should not have let that happen in that situation.

It’s been a frustrating season for Oberhotzler with injuries, so maybe sometime in the minors will help him cool off. Has he pitched his last game as an Astro? Think it’s too soon for the Astros to start thinking of this, maybe they can trade him to the Yankees.

Evan Drellich reported via Twitter that sources say that Michael Feliz is leaving Corpus Christi for Houston. Should this be true, what role will he play on the Houston Astros? It’s easy to assume that Roberto Hernandez will go back to the starting rotation, but he has pitched much better out of the bullpen than he has in the rotation.

Here are Hernandez’s pitching stats via Baseball-Reference

As a starter: 2 – 5/ 5.18 ERA/ 66 innings/ 31 SO

As a reliever: 0 – 0/ .96 ERA/ 9.1 innings/ 7 SO

Feliz has a power arm, who could be used in the bullpen. But he has been groomed as a starter. Do the Astros want to go with a three rookie pitcher rotation, or will they plug Hernandez back into the rotation? These are the things we will find out tomorrow, but all signs point towards Feliz going to the bullpen.

Next: Cole Hamels is not opposed to a trade to the Houston Astros

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