Astros: Cole avoids major injury as pitching staff gets battered

HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 07: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros pitches in the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Minute Maid Park on August 07, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 07: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros pitches in the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Minute Maid Park on August 07, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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The Astros got good news on Wednesday as Gerrit Cole avoided a major injury.

The Astros pitching staff took a beating this week on the South Side, thanks in no small part to Gerrit Cole being a late scratch from the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. The rest of the pitchers got hit pretty hard, but the series ended with some good news.

Cole said after Wednesday’s game that his hamstring injury was “not super serious,” so it looks like the Astros won’t be without him for an extended period of time. He’s not likely to pitch in the upcoming four-game series at Oakland, so he’ll probably miss at least one more start.

Still, considering the alternative, the Astros will take it. They’ve been fortunate in that Cole, Justin Verlander and Wade Miley have enjoyed good health this season, and new acquisition Zack Greinke has been durable as well. With a 9.5-game lead in the division, they can afford to give Cole time to get fully healthy again.

Pitching Takes Its Lumps

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Losing Cole at the last minute before Tuesday’s second game was going to put a strain on the bullpen regardless of how they pitched. Joe Biagini temporarily lost his roster spot after being forced to pitch three innings on Tuesday, with Chris Devenski and Hector Rondon also stretched out for two innings apiece.

To make matters worse, Miley struggled on Wednesday, though four of the seven runs he allowed were unearned. Still, with his outing only lasting 3.1 innings, Collin McHugh had to pick up the slack. It didn’t help that Ryan Pressly got shelled, and even Will Harris got tagged for a homer.

All this comes in the midst of some serious struggles for Roberto Osuna, who’s pitched to a 10.13 ERA so far in August and a 6.97 ERA since the All-Star break. While he’s not yet in danger of losing his role as closer, he’s got to figure out how to turn that ship around.

The Astros have yet to announce a starting pitcher for Saturday’s game. They could possibly use Cy Sneed, who was called up before Wednesday’s game but wasn’t used. If Sneed is needed in relief, which may be likely, the team may end up calling on Framber Valdez or Rogelio Armenteros to make a spot start until Cole is ready to rejoin the rotation.

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There isn’t cause for panic at this point, as the team has plenty of cushion. The rotation should be fine, though the bullpen does make me worry a bit. The good news is with September rosters expanding, some of these guys can get a breather and not have to be used as frequently down the stretch, keeping them fresh for October.

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