So the Astros organisation bid farewell to Buddy Boshers, reducing the number of players on the 40-man to 38. No word yet on who will start in McCullers' place, but because of the off day today, then the four game set against the Mariners, then another off day, the Astros won't have to make a decision until Tuesday next week, when they play the Rockies at home. Having a few off days scattered throughout August has certainly assisted the Astros.
It is possible that the reduction of the roster to 38 portends some kind of starting pitching promotion next week. Evidence supporting this: when McHugh appeared against the Giants, he threw only 0.2 of an IP before being replaced with Tony Sipp. That does not seem to be consistent with some kind of stretching-out programme to me. Brad Peacock threw two innings the last time out (against the Dodgers), but that was his first multi-inning appearance for nearly four weeks (since 11 July). The most he has thrown this year was all the way back on 4 April, when he went three against the Orioles. So neither looks like an immediate candidate to replace McCullers. Perhaps the Astros will just bullpen it, Rays style.
This column has been going for a little while now - about 2 weeks - and that is nearly enough time for us to start looking at the trends, rather than just picking through box scores. So over the next few days, I will review the main candidates for what I think are the positions potentially up for grabs. It may be useful to look at lefty relievers, mop-up pitchers (mostly for September), starting pitchers (for McCullers' spot in the rotation), outfielders, and corner infielders / DH. I will try and do one a day, but no promises. I have a hectic few weeks coming up.
Fresno: Fresno finished up their series with the Memphis Redbirds yesterday, before they were granted a day off today. Yesterday's game yielded 29 runs in a game which Fresno won, 15-14. Fresno scored 9 runs in the last three innings (including 7 runs in one frame), and gave up six runs in the last two. Memphis also had a seven run inning early in the game that turned a 3-0 deficit into a 7-3 lead. So there are some box scores to sift through here.
First, I guess, the good news. Everyone on the Grizzly roster reached base. Kyle Tucker was the star, with a 4-6 night which included a double and a home run. Jack Mayfield was right there with him (3-5, single short of the cycle), and AJ Reed went 2-4 with a double, a home run, and a sac-fly. Other notable performances for the right reasons included CF Myles Straw (0-3, 3BB) and 3B Nick Tanielu (3-5, HR). Yordan Alvarez went 1-3 but walked twice. Garrett Stubbs had a comparatively poor night - 0-4, BB.
Cy Sneed got the start, and he had a rough night. His final line was ugly - 1.1IP, 4 hits, 3 walks, 7 runs (all earned). Ralph Garza relieved, and managed 2.2 innings of 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 run, and one strikeout relief. Matt Ramsey threw two scoreless frames. Dean Deetz got the win, striking out 1 in 1 inning, lowering his ERA to 1.04.
From there, it got a little ugly. Brandon McCurry gave up three runs on 4 hits and a walk. Reymin Guduan gave up three hits and two walks (3ER) while retiring two, and was bailed out by Riley Ferrell, who got the last out with runners in scoring position. So... not a good night for the pitchers.
Corpus Christi: Corpus has come away with two wins in their last two days - the Carlos Correa effect, some would say. He started both games, and took the field at shortstop. The August 7 game featured a comfortable 4-1 win to the Hooks - Ryan Hartman tandem started, and gave up 1 run on 4 hits, striking out six in five innings. The lone run scored on a home run from DJ Peters from the Dodgers system. Akeem Bostick finished the game, with 4 innings of 1BB:6K hitless ball.
Two Hooks had two hits - CF Ronnie Dawson went 2-4 with a HR, and 2B Ryne Birk went 2-3 with a 2 run double. No other Hooks had extra-base hits. Randy César went 1-4, and Josh Rojas went 1-3 with a walk. Carlos Correa went 0-3 with a walk and no strikeouts.
Todays game was a tense, one run affair, with the Hooks prevailing 3-2, walking it off in regulation. The Hooks managed only 4 hits and 1 walk, with DH Carmen Benedetti the offensive standout (1-3, BB, HR) and 2B Ryne Birk hitting a triple in a 1-3 night. Ronnie Dawson and Josh Rojas both went 1-3. Carlos Correa went hitless (0-3), but was credited with an RBI on a groundout. So perhaps he isn't quite back in midseason form, but at least he is on the field.
Brock Dykxhoorn skated around disaster all night: 4.2IP, 4H, 3BB, but he allowed only 1 run (on a home run) and struck out five. Brandon Bailey also allowed a run in 3.2 innings of 5H, 1BB, 6K baseball. He also allowed a home run. Kit Scheetz and Alex Winkelman both got one out each, the former in relief of Dykxhoorn and the latter in relief of Bailey.
Right, so that sums up the last two days in the upper levels of the minors. I will be back tomorrow with more summarising, and more musings. Thanks for reading.