Astros: Mushinski saw a call up, but could others follow in April?
Prior to Saturday’s contest with the Seattle Mariners, the Houston Astros announced two roster moves; the club selected the contract of left-hander Parker Mushinski from Triple-A Sugar Land, placing Ryan Pressly on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to April 14.
The closer is battling right-knee inflammation, but his stay on the shelf won’t be longterm, according to multiple reports. With Pressly out the next week, the Astros will lean on Hector Neris, Rafael Montero and Ryne Stanek, who had back stiffness but will be available, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
Mushinski makes the roster with Yordan Alvarez sitting on the COVID-19 injured list, not counting against the 40-man. The lefty made four appearances in Triple-A, allowing no runs through 4.2 innings of work.
With Jonathan Bermudez, the Astros now have three lefties to look to on the 40-man as bullpen options, but one player will be removed for Alvarez’s return. The designated hitter was in Seattle on Saturday, taking batting practice, but a timetable on a return was not reported.
Three players sit on the 10-day without returns announced, and if the Astros look to keep Lance McCullers Jr., Jake Meyers and Taylor Jones away from the 60-day, a reliever being designated for assignment could be in the works.
With Jake Odorizzi struggling to find his own and Pedro Báez’s command non-existent, the Astros could follow Mushinski with evaluations of other 40-man pitchers.
Following a year of injury and a ramped-up spring training, Odorizzi ended the 2021 season on a high note, tossing 41 innings with a 3.07 ERA in nine starts. Without a start more than 4 1/3 innings in ’22, the right-hander has struggled through his first turn in the order, but with only two outings under his belt, there isn’t much reason to over-evaluate Odorizzi’s start on a shorter camp.
For Báez, fastball velocity haunts his low-leverage outings, while no sign of pitch-change has been reported or analyzed on statcast. The righty’s time on the roster is looking bleak, and if there is no acceptance to more offspeed and breaking pitches in his outings, the Astros may look to youth to replace his lack of veteran production.
A shuffle to the pitching staff will happen every month of the regular season, and while there are optionable relievers on the 40-man, there are benefits from one-stop evaluations. Ronel Blanco and Mushinski are possibilities to hit Triple-A for a few days to open a spot for the organization to evaluate a reliever.
In Sugar Land, the Astros have Bermudez, Brandon Bielak, Peter Solomon and Shawn Dubin open for spot starts when needed, and all four could be stretched for long relievers, too. But replacing a reliever with a reliever would behoove the Astros early on.
Low-leverage situations similar to Friday’s blowout loss offer innings to hurlers like Bryan Abreu and Blanco, but while those may be scarce, Seth Martinez, Josh James and Enoli Paredes have all done it before and are worthy of another look.
Paredes’ command may not be what everyone hoped, but through six innings in Triple-A, the 26-year-old has allowed four hits and four walks to eight strikeouts. The right-hander won’t be returning to his high-leverage role from 2020, but with 10 bullpen seats, a Paredes callup offers an evaluation similar to his last in September of last year.
On May 2, Rosters decrease to 26, and with most of the bullpen set beyond what will happen with Báez, the Astros have two weeks to test multiple options for depth later on into the year.