The Houston Astros dropped their second loss of the season, as the Oakland A’s win their first game against the Astros this season. While the bats were ice cold throughout the game, Lance McCullers Jr. only surrendered one run through five innings with six strikeouts. As his second start almost mirrored his first one, the right-hander was happy to have fans back at Minute Maid Park for the first time sine the 2019 World Series.
The game started to collapse, as Bryan Abreu, who was having a productive outing, surrendered a base runner and was relieved by Blake Taylor, who allowed the go-ahead run in the eighth. Joe Smith took on the ninth, and the side winder continued to struggle, while allowing a two-run home run to Mark Canha. For a pitcher looking to bounce back from an opt-out, Smith has had a rough welcome back to MLB.
It is early in the season, but the Astros’ bullpen has been banged up.
With the news of Enoli Paredes being placed on the 10-day injured list, the Astros called up Nivaldo Rodriguez, who had a decent spring training but a less than ideal 2020 campaign. While leaving Friday’s game with right side soreness, we don’t have more on Paredes’ timetable, but Rodriguez made the most sense to be brought back up.
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As the bullpen does look more experienced on paper than last season, the two losses this season were dealt to the relievers. With Pedro Baez, Josh James, Austin Pruitt and Andre Scrubb working to make it back to the roster this season, there is something to look forward to in the coming months. With Jake Odorizzi and Framber Valdez most likely filling in the rest of the rotation, Cristian Javier could be making his final 2021 outings as a long reliever.
While Brooks Raley has posted an 11.25 ERA this season, the left-hander is nursing back tightness that could be affecting his game. The left-handers, Taylor and Raley, haven’t had the hottest starts with 11 total hits surrendered. It is early in the season, but for an offense starting to cool down, the bullpen needs to be consistent to hold leads.
As Odorizzi makes his way to the roster in the coming home stand, the Astros will need to option a pitcher to make room, and Rodriguez makes the most sense to go back down. While we don’t have a return date for Paredes, the organization has seemed to have things fall in the right order when dealing with roster moves, as they have been riddled by injuries. This bumps Luis Garcia to the bullpen, and leaves Bryan Abreu and Brandon Bielak as the most likely to be optioned for either Scrubb or Paredes. One issue is that Baez will need a 40-man roster spot that’s not available.
With their record shifting to 6-2 against AL West teams and in the season, they will close their Opening Series with the A’s on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. As Jose Urquidy matches up against Frankie Montas, Sunday will be the first time in over 20 years that the Astros won’t play on Sunday during the regular season. As baseball has had many changes from the game to schedules, Chas McCormick also switched his number back to 20 from 6; this isn’t serious, but it’s a fun tidbit.