Astros Pitching Is In Dire Straits

Roberto Osuna's injury is another in a long list of pitching injuries the Astros are dealing with

Adam Spolane
August 02, 2020 - 2:49 am

HOUSTON (SportRadio 610)- The second question posed to Dusty Baker during his pregame media Zoom call before the Astros 10-inning loss to the Angels Saturday had to do with this status of his 11-man bullpen.

"You should've asked that yesterday," Baker quipped. "You would've had a hell of a story."

Of course, the night before, Baker was forced to use rookie Andre Scrubb to close out the Astros 9-6 win Friday night in Anaheim in just his second big league appearance. His bullpen was just as thin entering Saturday's game. He said Chris Devenski, Enoli Paredes, Brandon Bielak were unavailable, he hoped to stay away from Cy Sneed and he called Ryan Pressly and Bryan Abreu question marks. In the time between the end of the call and Griffin Canning's first pitch to George Springer, the team placed Devenski on the IL, and things only got worse over the course of the game.

Pressly did pitch for the first time in 2020 after battling a blister issue during the Astros summer camp and elbow soreness during the season's first week, but allowed a run and couldn't finish the eighth inning, retiring just two of the five Angels he faced without generating a swinging strike on any of his 23 pitches. Before leaving the game, he had to be looked at by Astros trainer Jeremiah Randall because of a cut over his thumbnail.

"He was alright, and we got him out of there because we didn't want him to throw too many pitches because that's his first outing."

Brandon Bailey finished the eighth inning, and with the Astros trailing 3-1 and didn't look like they would need anyone for the ninth, but that changed after George Springer capped a three-run frame with a two-out, two-run homer. That gave Roberto Osuna a chance for his first save of 2020, but he summoned Randall to the mound following his ninth pitch, and after looking down at his forearm walked off into the Astros clubhouse.

"He said he had some discomfort in his arm," Baker reported to the media after the game. "We're sending him back to Houston to get it checked and to get an MRI."

Sneed was forced into the game and surrendered a game-tying double to Jason Castro and the Angels won the game against rookie Nivaldo Rodriguez in the tenth.

"That was a terrible, terrible, terrible blow," Baker said of Osuna's injury which capped a week that started with Justin Verlander getting placed on the 10-day IL due to a forearm strain. The Astros also lost Joe Biagini and Astros general manager James Click revealed the team shutdown Austin Pruitt, who was competing for a starters job during spring training.

Of the 11 relievers on the Astros roster for Saturday's game, seven (Scrubb, Bielak, Paredes, Bailey, Rodriguez, Blake Taylor, and Carlos Sanabria) had never pitched in the majors before this season, while two, (Sneed and Abreu) had 15 combined appearances. Only Osuna and Pressly are established major leaguers. The Astros did acquire Fernando Rodney and Hector Velazquez this week, and they are currently at the team's alternate training site in Corpus Christi, but it's unclear when either might be available to contribute.

Baker also made it sound like the two highest profile pitchers in Corpus, Jose Urquidy and Forrest Whitley, are not close to being ready to get outs in the big leagues.

"Whitley might've had a chance to break camp with us, but he was supposed to go two innings (in a July 22 sim game) and he felt some arm discomfort. Then he was supposed to go three innings the other day to give us some length and he also had some arm discomfort."

The Astros top prospect is still throwing in Corpus Christi, but it's hard to think they'll rush the 22-year old.

Urquidy wasn't with the team during summer camp for undisclosed reasons and Baker said he's two weeks away from being able to help out of the bullpen and three weeks or a month from being able to start.

"It takes that time because he didn't pick up a ball, he was three weeks to a month behind everybody else."

The news wasn't all bad on Saturday. Zack Greinke took a perfect game into the sixth inning after a rough first start, and Blake Taylor continued to impress by tossing a fourth straight scoreless outing, but those successes were overshadowed by Osuna walking off the mound after nine pitches. It's hard to think the Astros pitching situation could grow any more dire, only Baker knows better.

"My dad said don't think worse because it can get worse."