Results tagged ‘ Brandon Backe ’

So long, Brandon Backe

Brandon Backe, one of the most popular players wear to an Astros uniform in the past 10 years, appears to be done in Houston.

The hometown favorite was designated for assignment following Friday night’s game, meaning the Astros have 10 days to trade him or release him. Backe has the right to demand his release, and based on his comments late Friday it appears that will be what he’s going to do.

The departure of Backe leaves the Astros with only three remaining players from their 2005 World Series team — Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez.

Backe was acquired from Tampa Bay in exchange for Geoff Blum on Dec. 14, 2003 and quickly became a fan favorite with his big-game performances and outward passion for the game.

He went 5-3 for the Astros in 2004 in mostly a relief role, before going 10-8 in the rotation in 2005. He struggled with injuries in 2006 before having Tommy John surgery, which cost him almost all of the 2007 season.

He came back healthy in 2008, but didn’t pitch well. He made 31 starts and was 9-14 with a 6.05 ERA, leading the league in earned runs (112) and home runs (36). Surprisingly, the Astros signed him to a $1.55 million contract for 2009, but he strained an intercostal muscle in spring and missed two months. By the time he returned, the Astros really had no use for him anymore with Felipe Paulino showing promise and Russ Ortiz pitching so well.

Backe was a hometown kid from Galveston who possessed great fire on the mound, but more than anything Astros fans will remember him for coming up huge in the playoffs.

In Game 5 of the 2004 NLCS, Backe held St. Louis to one hit over eight scoreless innings in a game the Astros eventually won on Jeff Kent‘s homer in the ninth. He held St. Louis to two hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings in Game 4 of the 2005 NLCS and delivered in the World Series that year, throwing seven scoreless innings agains tthe White Sox in Game 4.

Backe was understandably frustrated and disappointed over not getting a chance to rejoin the rotation this year after making six Minor League rehab starts. But the Astros have given Backe more than enough chances, including 31 starts last year, to prove he’s a capable Major League starter.

Thus, the Brandon Backe era appears to be over. Here’s hoping another team gives him a shot.

Backe to the bullpen, Paulino improving

The Astros released their probable pitchers for next week’s Interleague Series against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park, and it appears right-hander Brandon Backe is getting moved back to the bullpen after making one start. Backe gave up four hits and three runs in four innings Thursday in Arlington and left the game with a finger blister.

Russ Ortiz will open the series Tuesday, and Roy Oswalt will pitch Wednesday on four days of rest. The Astros could have used Monday’s off day to give Oswalt another day coming off a 126-pitch performance Friday in Minnesota, but chose to keep him on four days of rest. Brian Moehler, who pitched Saturday against the Twins, is scheduled to throw Thursday’s finale.

Considering Wandy Rodriguez would be scheduled to pitch Friday against Detroit (the Astros haven’t released their probable starters for that series), Backe is the odd man out.

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Right-hander Felipe Paulino, on the disabled list with a strained groin, threw about 60 pitches in the bullpen prior to Saturday’s game in Minnesota and said he felt fine. He will throw live batting practice next week in Houston, after which the Astros will make a decision about his future. 

Make-or-break start for Backe?

With Mike Hampton going on the disabled list with a strained groin, Brandon Backe will make his first start of the season in Thursday’s series finale against the Rangers. Simply put, this could be Backe’s final chance to show the Astros he can be a capable Major League pitcher.

Backe struggled last year, going 9-14 with a 6.05 ERA in 31 starts in his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery. He led the league in earned runs (112) and home runs (36), but signed a $1.55 million contract and was competing for a spot in the rotation before missing two months when he injured a ribcage muscle in early March.

As a reliever, Backe hasn’t distinguished himself so far this season in four appearances. He’s pitched nine innings and allowed 17 hits and 12 runs while striking out 10 batters. He’s 1-2 with a 7.77 ERA in six career games (three starts) against the Rangers.

Hampton can come off the disabled list on June 29, but don’t be surprised to see the Astros reach down to Triple-A Round Rock at some point soon and summon Bud Norris. He’s 3-4 with a 2.34 ERA in 12 starts, allowing 62 hits and striking out 72 batters in 73 innings.

 

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