Astros Option Fields and Stassi to AAA, Activate McCullers and Castro
What is new on May 13th for the Houston Astros?
If you were able to stay up long enough to endure the 11-1 Houston Astros loss to the Boston Red Sox last night at Fenway Park, you are already aware of the transactions that were made after to the game. We all knew that Lance McCullers was due to take the mound tonight for the Astros, but we weren’t really sure which reliever would be going down. Most people were scared that it would be Michael Feliz who has been one of the most reliable arms in the bullpen, but instead, Josh Fields was optioned to Triple-A Fresno.
Fields, a former Rule V draft prospect from Boston, has gotten off to a horrid start to the 2016 season. What has worked for him in the past, no longer works for him now. Last season, he was 4-1 with a 3.55 ERA while striking out 67 hitters in 50 2/3 innings. Fields was one of the reasons why the Astros were so successful last year holding the lead. Fast forward to 2016, he is 0-0 with a 6.89 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. He is on the same path strikeout-wise, and according to Fangraphs, his velocity remained the same it was in 2015.
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What’s the difference, his line drive percentages have gone up, and the batters are making more contact on the pitches thrown in the strike zone? Fields still can have a bright future with the team, but he needs to get his head screwed on right.
The surprise was not that Jason Castro was returning, but that it was Max Stassi being optioned to Triple-A. This means that two-hit Erik Kratz will remain on the team, at least until Evan Gattis is ready. This move could mean that they want Stassi to get more time rehabbing from his injury at Triple-A. Maybe Stassi is not really in the Astros plans anymore, with the fact that Gattis has returned to catching. Perhaps, they want to hold on to Kratz as long as possible in case something happens to Castro.
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It’s good to have Castro in the lineup, and you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone. Castro may not be the best offensive catcher this year, but take a look at the AL catchers this year. The Astros need more things to go their way if they are going to crawl back into the AL West race, maybe the return of McCullers tonight will spark the team.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs***