The hits keep coming for the Astros. Less than 24 hours after losing Jose Urquidy to a shoulder injury, the Astros also lost Luis Garcia. Garcia started Monday night against San Francisco looking to build off of back-to-back fantastic starts. Garcia entered the game on a 13-inning scoreless streak. He lasted all of eight pitches.
Garcia called catcher Martín Maldonado to the mound in the middle of his at-bat with Thairo Estrada after experiencing pain in his right elbow and eventually left with the training staff. Brandon Bielak, who had been with the club for only one day, came on in relief and performed admirably, throwing four innings of two-run ball before reaching his limit of 75 pitches. Bielak struck out six.
Houston went on to win 7-3 behind a dominant showing from Mauricio Dubón and great work from the bullpen. Ryne Stanek took home the win. Phil Maton, Stanek, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly combined for five innings of one-run ball.
As the dust settled today, the Astros made a corresponding move, placing Garcia on the 15-day IL and recalled Matt Gage from Sugar Land.
Some debate had taken place between whether or not Houston would call up JP France or Forrest Whitley to take Garcia's place, but Houston called up a reliever instead. This would lead one to believe they'll try to ride a stretched out Rafael Blanco as a starter. What had the makings of a dominant rotation now has some serious question marks.
The first three or Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier and Hunter Brown are lights out, but Bielak and Blanco are far from proven starters in the bigs. Until Lance McCullers Jr. returns, the Astros offense will need to carry a substantial workload.
Gage was an off-season waiver addition, and one we had high praise for. He made eight appearances in Sugar Land this season, throwing nine innings, allowing 12 hits, walking five, striking out 12 and allowing five earned runs.
Gage is a lefty, so be prepared to see plenty of him. If there are three certainties in life, they are death, taxes and Dusty Baker's affinity for lefties in the bullpen.
Houston plays tonight at 7:10 CT in a continued effort to weather the injury storm.