Josh James’ return to the Astros could be right around the corner.
The Houston Astros have yet to promote right-handed pitcher Josh James to the major leagues this season, and the reasons are understandable. James hasn’t been consistent over a long stretch of games in his major-league career, while also coming off hip surgery that had him miss close to three months of the season.
Now, the right-hander sits in Triple-A Sugar Land, where he was optioned after being activated from the 60-day injured list on August 1. While having a setback in his rehab assignment, frustrations could be expected when not placed on the active roster.
For the Astros, they stood with a nine-man bullpen that was looking to add right-hander Pedro Baez as well and was holding new acquisitions, boosting the high-leverage need. With Baez and Rafael Montero falling to the injured list, both pitchers stand without timetables to return.
In response to Baez being placed on the shelf, the Astros recalled Bryan Abreu from Triple-A, who now sits at a 5.75 ERA through 36 innings this year. We could expect Abreu optioned soon, after a rough outing on Sunday that ended with seven runs and 37 pitches thrown.
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This leaves Abreu out for a few days, warranting a possible promotion for someone like James, who has 23 strikeouts and a 1.72 ERA over 15.2 innings. The organization hasn’t utilized pitchers’ options more recently with an older bullpen in-line, but if a hurler is set to be out for a short period of time after an extended outing, might as well option him to the taxi squad, if possible, for a fresh arm.
While on a road trip, the taxi squad is still available at this moment in the season, which gives more leeway with optioning used arms for fresh ones. No one is currently on the taxi squad, but this is where Brandon Bielak could sit, while the Astros will be in Seattle and San Diego this week.
With James excelling in Triple-A, it would behoove the Astros to give him a promotion in the coming days, as they could utilize pitchers’ options and the taxi squad simultaneously.