Astros Notes: James looks for edge on Pruitt in rotation race

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 07: Josh James #39 of the Houston Astros delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 07, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 07: Josh James #39 of the Houston Astros delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 07, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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In the race for the Astros fifth starter spot, Josh James could gain an edge over Austin Pruitt.

There’s still plenty of time for the Astros‘ fifth starter to be decided, but there’s a chance here for Josh James to gain an edge. Austin Pruitt stumbled a bit on Wednesday, leaving the door open for James to take the lead.

Pruitt pitched three innings in relief against the Marlins, allowing two runs on four hits and taking the loss. Three of those hits went for extra bases, including a home run to Christian Lopes. He didn’t walk or strike out anyone.

The loss bumps his spring ERA to 3.00, so he’s far from out of the running. But it’s interesting that he hasn’t walked or struck out a batter in six innings of work so far. That’s a stark contrast to the overpowering James.

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Speaking of James, he’s set to start Thursday’s game against the Red Sox. In his first and only outing so far this spring, he threw two scoreless frames with three strikeouts. Another similar outing today could give him a leg up on Pruitt, though Framber Valdez is still in the mix as well.

Odds and Ends

Zack Greinke made his second appearance of the spring on Wednesday, tossing three scoreless innings, giving up a pair of hits and striking out two. He reached 91 mph on the stadium radar gun, which is unusual for him this early. He’s looking like he can come out of the gate strong.

Kyle Tucker‘s slow start continues, as he’s now 0-for-16 with one walk so far this spring. Manager Dusty Baker isn’t too concerned and is going to get him plenty of reps so he’ll be ready for the start of the season. Nonetheless, he needs to get it going sooner rather than later.

The back end of the Astros’ bullpen made its first appearance this spring. Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna each threw a scoreless inning on Wednesday. Chris Devenski also chipped in with a 1-2-3 top of the ninth.

The team’s offense as a whole is starting slow, but there are a few who’ve been hitting well. Michael Brantley is hitting .455, Alex Bregman is hitting .300, and Dustin Garneau raised his average to .444 thus far. Garrett Stubbs, in his quest for the 26th roster spot, is 4-for-5 with a homer. Myles Straw is hitting .308 with three homers in 13 at-bats.

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