Results tagged ‘ Brandon Lyon ’
The Astros worked out on the stadium field at the Osceola County Stadium complex for the first time Friday morning in anticipation of Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Washington Nationals.
Before the players began to stretch, manager Brad Mills addressed the team and lauded non-roster outfielder Brandon Barnes for presenting him earlier in the morning with a Transformers watch. Mills’ watch was shattered and he suffered a black eye Wednesday when a ball came through the netting behind the cage and struck him.
“That’s pretty good for a young kid to do that,” Mills said. “I told the guys if we screw up on the time today, it’s Brandon’s fault, because of the Transformers watch.”
Here’s the latest on the Astros:
- LHP Sergio Escalona, who injured his throwing elbow swinging a bat last week, will be shut down for a few days, Mills said. Escalona had an MRI on Thursday, which showed no structural damage.
- Mills announced the next two starters in his rotation following Livan Hernandez (Saturday), J.A. Happ (Sunday) and Jordan Lyles (Monday). Wandy Rodriguez will start Tuesday against the Mets, and Bud Norris will start Wednesday against the Phillies in Clearwater.
- Among the relievers scheduled to pitch behind Hernandez on Saturday are Brett Myers and Brandon Lyon, who will be pitching in a game for the first time since May. Myers will throw one inning in his debut as Astros closer (he won’t pitch the ninth, however).
- The batting order has yet to be announced, but Mills revealed his starters for Saturday’s game against the Nats: Chris Johnson (third base), Jed Lowrie (shortstop), Jose Altuve (second base), Carlos Lee (first base), J.B. Shuck (left field), Jason Bourgeois (center field), Travis Buck (right field), Castro (catcher) and Jack Cust (DH).
- Third baseman Jimmy Paredes, who’s nursing a sore left wrist, took batting practice left-handed Thursday, but is still not cleared to swing right from the right side of the plate.
- Castro, who missed all of last year following knee surgery and then had foot surgery in December, will catch only three innings Saturday. Mills said he’d like Castro to catch three more innings Monday and then perhaps four on Wednesday, depending on how he feels.
There is no official “reporting” date to Spring Training as there has been in years past, but several players were at Osceola County Stadium on Sunday — one day ahead of the first workout for pitchers and catchers.
J.A. Happ and fellow starting pitcher Bud Norris were among a handful of players to seize the opportunity to get on the back fields and play catch. Also working out Sunday were pitchers Lucas Harrell, Fernando Rodriguez, Wesley Wright, David Carpenter, outfielder Jake Goebbert and catcher Jason Castro.
Other who were in camp Sunday: Chris Snyder, Jack Cust, Zach Duke and Jorge De Leon.
“There’s going to be a lot of competition for positions, but it’s always going to be good just to see everybody again,” Happ said. “It’s good to have a little time off, but after so long everybody is going to be ready to get going again.”
The Astros will have 63 players in camp this year, including 23 non-roster players. The pitchers and catchers will take their physicals prior to Monday’s workout.
“We’ve been in Houston so long, champing at the bit,” said infielder Brett Wallace, who reported well ahead of the Feb. 26 first workout for position players. “Getting in last night and getting the chance to get in there, it’s like reality that it’s about to start. I think we’re all excited to get going this year.”
The Astros have more jobs up for grabs than any camp in recent memory. The top three spots in the rotation are decided, with Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Norris returning, and Carlos Lee (first base), J.D. Martinez (left field), Jose Altuve (second base) and newcomer Jed Lowrie (shortstop) likely to be in the Opening Day lineup.
“We’ve got to come in here and be positive, and that’s our No. 1 priority,” Norris said. “A lot went on last year besides playing baseball that kind of had us living in limbo land with the ownership, but finally we got that settled and I’m sure [new owner Jim] Crane is going to have an opportunity to talk to us and we’re going to have an opportunity to talk to him. It’s a fresh start. That’s what we needed.”
Veteran relief pitcher Brandon Lyon, who underwent surgery last year to repair the detachment of his right biceps tendon and to also mend a tear in his labrum, was understandably eager to get to Kissimmee. Lyon has been throwing off the mound at home and said he comes to camp with no limitations.
“I’ve thrown a few times off the mound, which is kind of rare for me coming into Spring Training,” he said. “I usually don’t throw too much, but I felt like I had to throw a couple of times and get on the mound and see where I’m at. I’m actually pretty happy where I’m at. I feel like I’m ahead of where I usually am right now.”
Catcher Jason Castro, who missed all of last season with a serious knee injury and underwent foot surgery two months ago, reported to camp on Sunday in good shape. He underwent surgery Dec. 9 to remove the sesamoid bone from his foot after injuring it playing in the Arizona Fall League and sat out all of last season after undergoing surgery to repair a large tear in the meniscus and having a reconstruction of the right ACL.
“I feel really good health-wise,” Castro said. “I’ll be ready to go. That’s a big reason why I’m excited. I wasn’t sure how the whole rehab process was going to go, but everything has gone really well. That makes me even more excited to get going, knowing I’m healthy.”
Here are some photos from Sunday:
The Astros placed right-hander Brandon Lyon on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with right biceps tendinitis and recalled left-hander Fernando Abad from Triple-A Oklahoma City. He will join the team in time for Thursday’s game.
Lyon, the Astros’ closer at the beginning of the year, missed 32 games earlier this season with right biceps tendinitis/partial rotator cuff tear and had appeared in three games since being activated June 9. He had given up a home run in each of those three outings.
Lyon has appeared in 15 games his season and is 3-3 with a 11.48 ERA.
“Sitting down in the bullpen even without throwing [Tuesday] night, Brandon’s arm was bothering him a little bit,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “Jamie [Quirk], our bullpen coach, talked to him last night and felt we needed to talk about it. We came in and talked about and brought the doctors in and we thought we need to get this care of.”
Mills said Lyon would likely undergo MRI at some point soon and said his current injury is related to the previous injury that put him on the DL.
“I can say pretty candidly it’s probably related,” Mills said.
Abad, who had a 2.84 ERA in 22 games last year with the Astros in his Major League debut, was 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA in 11 games at Oklahoma City. He started the season with the Astros, but was sent down after going 1-4 with a 7.43 ERA in 22 appearances.
“We talked to the Triple-A staff down there and we just about went through all the pitchers,” Mills said. “[Jeff] Fulchino, we sent him down [earlier this week] to work on some things. He threw two pitches last night and got hit with a one-hopper and had to come out of the game. I don’t think that’s fair to him [to bring him back]. As we went through the other pitchers, we felt Abad was the best choice. The response to our questions were he’s throwing pretty close to what he was last year.”
As an Astros fan, it’s probably hard to stomach the team’s 13-21 record considering they’ve blown nine saves this year — the most in the Major Leagues. The Astros have converted only five of 14 save chances, which translates to a league-worst 35.7 save conversion rate. Last year, the Astros blew 15 saves in the entire season.
The struggles of the bullpen, which is last in the Majors with a 5.54 ERA and .305 batting average against, were on full display Sunday when left-hander Fernando Abad gave up a three-run homer in the eighth inning to Ryan Doumit, allowing the Pirates to steal a 5-4 win.
The Astros have rallied to win three of the games in which they have blown a save, so it’s safe to say blown saves have cost them six wins. That’s the difference between being 19-15 and 13-21 – their record heading into Monday’s game against the Reds.
Although it’s unreasonable to expect any team to have not blown a save a month into the season (every team has blown at least one save), letting six wins get away can have a huge effect on the standings. A 19-15 record would put the Astros in first place in the NL Central (one of the blown saves was against St. Louis, which is currently 20-15).
Mark Melancon and Jeff Fulchino have both blown one save, but they’ve been pretty effective this year. Melancon has allowed 14 hits and struck out 12 in 16 2/3 innings, and Fulchino has allowed 15 hits and has struck out 15 batters in 16 innings.
Lyon, the team’s closer, has blown four saves and landed on the disabled list last week with biceps tendinitis and a partial tear of his rotator cuff after blowing a game in Cincinnati. Enerio Del Rosario (5.14 ERA), Wilton Lopez (5.14), Abad (7.50) haven’t been as effective as the team had hoped.
Here’s a breakdown of the Astros’ nine blown saves (games the Astros won are in italics):
- April 1 at Philadelphia – Astros lead 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth inning before the Phillies rally on Opening Day for three runs off Brandon Lyon to win, 5-4.
- April 8 vs. Florida – With a 2-1 lead through seven innings, Wilton Lopez gives up two in the eighth to blow a save in a 4-3 loss to Marlins.
- April 17 vs. San Diego – The Astros led, 6-4, through seventh innings before Mark Melancon gave up four runs (two earned) in the eighth. The Padres win, 8-6.
- April 23 at Milwaukee – Brandon Lyon allows one run in the eighth to tie the game, but the Astros score three in the ninth to win, 9-6.
- April 26 vs. Chicago – Jeff Fulchino gives up a run in the eighth inning of one-run game, but the Astros rally to win, 6-5.
- April 28 vs. St. Louis – The Cardinals erupt for nine runs in the sixth inning to wipe out a 4-1 deficit, with Fernando Abad giving up four runs in two-thirds of an inning to blow the save. St. Louis wins, 11-7.
- April 30 vs. Milwaukee – Brandon Lyon allows a run in the ninth, but Astros score a run in bottom of inning to win, 2-1.
- May 4 at Cincinnati – Reds score three in the bottom of the night without an out off Brandon Lyon to win, 3-2.
- May 8 at Pittsburgh – Fernando Abad gives up a three-run home in the bottom of the eighth to Ryan Doumit to allow Pirates to win, 5-4.
Astros reliever Brandon Lyon, who blew his fourth save in eight tries Wednesday, was scheduled to fly back to Houston on Thursday to be examined by team medical director Dr. David Lintner.
Lyon came on in the ninth inning Wednesday and the Astros leading 2-0 and allowed all five base runners to reach, with Jay Bruce doubling down the right-field line to score Joey Votto with the winning run. Lyon didn’t speak to reporters after the game, but the team announced early Thursday he was going to Houston.
MLB.com will keep you informed with latest Lyon updates.
Here are the lineups for Thursday’s series finale:
CF Michael Bourn
LF Jason Bourgeois
RF Hunter Pence
1B Brett Wallace
3B Chris Johnson
2B Bill Hall
SS Clint Barmes
C Humberto Quintero
RHP Brett Myers
CF Chris Heisey
SS Edgar Renteria
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Jay Bruce
LF Jonny Gomes
C Ryan Hanigan
3B Paul Janish
RHP Homer Bailey
The Astros rallied for a run in the ninth-inning for a walk-off win over the Nationals, 6-5, on Thursday night at Osceola County Stadium. Bryce Harper, the top pick in the draft last year, made an errant throw from right field to allow the winning run to cross the plate.
Tied at 5 in the ninth with Jimmy Paredes on first base, Brian Dopirak sent a laser into the right field corner. Paredes was originally given the stop sign at third base, but Harper’s poor throw allowed him to score the winning run.
What went right: There were solid pitching performances up and down the boxscore, beginning with starter Wandy Rodriguez. The left-hander was pretty good in his third start of the spring, allowing four hits and one run in four innings. He threw 71 pitches (25 in the first inning) and retired eight of the final nine batters he faced.
Brandon Lyon threw a crisp 1-2-3 inning and benefitted from a terrific diving stop by second baseman Bill Hall, and Jeff Fulchino allowed a lead-off hit in the sixth, but quickly got a double play and finished the inning in quick fashion. Ross Wolf and Sergio Escalona also pitched scoreless innings and struck out one batter.
At the plate, the Astros had 13 hits, with Jason Bourgeois (2-for-4) and Chris Johnson (2-for-3) leading the charge. Johnson ripped a two-run single in the third inning and is now hitting .304. Matt Downs continues to make a push to make the club, going 1-for-3 with an RBI double while starting at first base. Tommy Manzella had two plate appearances and put down a sacrifice bunt and drew a walk to start out the ninth.
What went wrong: Wesley Wright had a rough night on the mound, allowing three hits, two walks and four runs in one inning, raising his ERA to 13.50. Hunter Pence finally cooled down and went 0-for-4, but no one is worried about him.
There wasn’t much else manager Brad Mills could feel badly about. The Astros squandered a bases-loaded situation in the first inning when Bill Hall hit into a double play, but Hall came back with a double in the third.
What’s they said: “Last year, I got hurt and didn’t get to finish up the season, and then Houston came in and to be part of this team and organization, it’s a great feeling alone by itself. My first at-bat [in the seventh], I came up looking to drive the ball and missed that pitch and got a little under it [and popped out]. I tried to make the adjustment to my next at-bat and stayed through it a little bit longer and was looking for a pitch up in the zone and jumped on it. I felt good. My swing’s been feeling pretty good. It felt good to help the team win and come up in that situation and do that.” — Astros outfielder Brian Dopirak on his ninth-inning heroics.
What’s next: Manager Brad Mills and his coaching staff will have the opportunity to watch two games on Friday, with the Astros playing a split-squad game against the Red Sox in Kissimmee in the afternoon and playing another game against the Nationals in Viera at night. This will be the Astros’ fourth split-squad date of the spring. Brett Myers will start against the Red Sox and is scheduled to throw about 75 pitches, and Rule 5 pick Lance Pendleton will start against the Nationals.
Injury update: Outfielder Jason Michaels, who was scratched from Tuesday’s game in Fort Myers due to back spasms, has made progress and returned to the lineup Thursday at designated hitter. … Right-hander Alberto Arias played catch on Thursday and said his shoulder felt fine. He will throw from 90 feet on Friday and take Saturday off as he continues to battle back from inflammation and tries to get into a game for the first time this spring. … Right-hander Sammy Gervacio (shoulder) could begin throwing soon. … Right-hander Bud Norris, who left his start Monday with a mild hamstring strain, said he feels good and will start Sunday against the Braves.
Here are the pictures of the day:
Above: Manager Brad Mills watches cut-offs and rundowns on Thursday.
Above: Matt Downs reaches for a ball being thrown from the outfield.
Above: Wilton Lopez concentrates while trying to make a play during rag ball drills.
Above: Michael Bourn and bullpen coach Jamie Quirk give each other a fist bump during BP. They were probably agreeing on how great UH is going to be in football this year.
Above: Bill Hall swings away in batting practice. I’m glad he didn’t foul it back into my face.
We are roughly halfway through Spring Training and the roster picture is pretty much as cloudy as it was when camp opened a month ago, and perhaps even more so with the injury to catcher Jason Castro. With so many bodies still in camp, it’s been difficult to determine which players might have the leg up, but that will not deter me.
Here’s my guess on what the Opening Day roster will look like:
Comment: The Astros could still bring in another catcher in time for Opening Day, but for now I’m going to limit my prediction to the players that are still in camp.
Brett Wallace (L)
Comment: I still believe Wallace is going to win the first base job. Downs has looked good in camp and could bring some pop and versatility off the bench. Manzella has broadened his defensive scope and has looked good at the plate so far this spring. Angel Sanchez could still play his way into the mix, but his defense is an issue. Anderson Hernandez has played well, too.
Michael Bourn (L)
Brian Bogusevic (L)
Comment: The only spot up for grabs is the fifth outfield spot. Bogusevic probably has a leg up on Jason Bourgeois because he hits left-handed. He runs pretty well too, but not as well as Bourgeois, who could also play second base.
STARTING PITCHERS (5)
Wandy Rodriguez (L)
J.A. Happ (L)
Ryan Rowland-Smith (L)
Comment: The fifth spot in the rotation remains completely up for grabs. Right now, I go with Rowland-Smith over Jordan Lyles, who has looked good but is still 20 years old and has barely had his feet wet at Triple-A. Nelson Figueroa makes the club as the long reliever.
RELIEF PITCHERS (7)
Fernando Abad (L)
Comment: At this point, I see Lyon, Lopez, Abad and Figueroa as locks. Fulchino is healthy and pitching well, and Melancon appears to have a good chance. The last spot? Completely up for grabs. The injury to Alberto Arias may give some other guys a chance, and Villar as pitched well. Don’t count out Sergio Escalona or Enerio Del Rosario.
Here it is: the eighth and final installment of the Astros’ position-by-position breakdown. Today we’ll take a look at relief pitching, which general manager Ed Wade says is one of the strengths of the team. Before we get to the bullpen, here are the links to the previous seven entries in the series (click on the desired position to view the entry): catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, outfield, starting pitcher.
2010 bullpen to begin season: Brian Moehler, Jeff Fulchino, Sammy Gervacio, Chris Sampson, Tim Byrdak, Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon.
2010 end-of-season bullpen: Fernando Abad, Tim Byrdak, Gustavo Chacin, Enerio Del Rosario, Jeff Fulchino, Matt Lindstrom, Wilton Lopez, Brandon Lyon, Mark Melancon, Felipe Paulino, Henry Villar and Wesley Wright.
Others who made an appearance: Nelson Figueroa, Brian Moehler, Casey Daigle, Gary Majewski, Kevin Cash.
Combined 2010 stats of Astros relief pitchers: 24-23 record, 45 saves in 60 opportunities, 4.49 ERA (ranked 13th in the NL).
Free agents: None.
Arbitration eligible: LHP Tim Byrdak, LHP Gustavo Chacin, RHP Matt Lindstrom, RHP Felipe Paulino.
What happened: The Astros traded for hard-throwing Matt Lindstrom last December and plunked down $15 million on a three-year contract for Brandon Lyon to bolster the back end of the bullpen after losing both Jose Valverde and LaTroy Hawkins to free agency. Lyon developed a cyst in his shoulder and was behind all spring, opening the door for Lindstrom to win the closer’s job.
Lindstrom got off to a terrific start, posting a 1.40 ERA in his first 19 appearances and going 10-for-10 in save opportunities. He blew three saves and posted a 5.23 ERA in June and began battling back spasms that eventually cost him the closer’s job and forced him to the disabled list in August. Lyon took over as closer in early August and finished with 20 saves in 22 chances and a 3.12 ERA.
Lindstrom, who led the team with 23 saves, and Lyon became the first set of teammates to save at least 20 games in the same season since the 1992 Cincinnati Reds.
Wilton Lopez, who the Astros acquired on a waiver claim in 2009, took on an important role in the back of the bullpen and wound up pitching in 68 games and posted a 2.96 ERA. The Astros also got good mileage out of lefty Tim Byrdak and right-hander Jeff Fulchino, who battled injuries and wasn’t as sharp as he was in 2009. Fan favorite Chris Sampson had a good first half and was eventually sent to the Minors after some struggles and designated for assignment. Alberto Arias, who was injured in Spring Training, and Sammy Gervacio were quickly shut down because of shoulder troubles.
As the year progressed, the Astros got a good look at right-handers Henry Villar and Mark Melancon, who was acquired from the Yankees in the Lance Berkman trade.
What’s next: Astros general manager Ed Wade doesn’t plan to do much to the bullpen in the offseason and sees it as one of the strengths of the club. Lyon and Lindstrom will once again compete for the closer’s job in the spring, though both could again wind up finishing off games at some point. The Astros like what Lopez brings to the back end of the bullpen and envision Melancon as a future late-game reliever.
Arias, who had surgery for rotator cuff impingement, could be in the picture next year along with Gervacio, who missed most of the year with rotator cuff inflammation. Gervacio had mixed results in the Minors but showed some good flashes with the Minor Leagues. Fernando Abad had a good Major League debut in his 22 appearances and will be a left-handed option, along with Wesley Wright.
Who’s on the farm: Left-hander Douglas Arguello, the pitcher of the year at Double-A Corpus Christi, will be in spring camp next year competing for a job. Abad and Villar, both of whom came up late in the season, could lead the next wave of youngsters in the pen. Don’t forget Chia-Jen Lo, who missed much of last year with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament.
Astros manager Brad Mills said Tuesday right-hander Matt Lindstrom will be his closer to start the 2010 season. Lindstrom, acquired in a trade from Florida in December, hasn’t allowed an earned run in eight games this spring, striking out eight batters and allowing five hits in 8 2/3 innings
Lindstrom came into Spring Training competing with Brandon Lyon for the closer’s role, but Lyon didn’t pitch until March 18 after having a cyst drained in his right shoulder in January. Lyon, who signed a three-year, $15-million deal, has 54 career saves, including 26 with Arizona in 2008.
Lindstrom has saved 20 games in his career, including 15 with Florida last year.
“We told Brandon Lyon he was going to be extremely valuable for us and going to be extremely valuable getting to us getting to that point as we go forward,” Mills said. “Nothing against Brandon at all, but when Matt did throw the ball as well as he did and Brandon was getting slow in getting going, that was probably it.”
Lindstrom and Lyon were two one of the Astros’ biggest offseason acquisitions following the departure of closer Jose Valverde and setup man LaTroy Hawkins in free agency. In 191 career games – all with the Marlins – Lindstrom went 8-8 with a 3.88 ERA and 20 saves in 171 2/3 innings, striking out 144 batters and walking 71.
Astros right-hander Brandon Lyon will see his first “game” action of the spring when he pitches Wednesday in a controlled game. Lyon threw living batting practice on a back field at Osceola County Stadium on Sunday morning and appears ready to take another step towards getting into his first Grapefruit League game with the Astros.
So what is a controlled game?
“We’ll have fielders and hitters and he’s holding runners, that type of thing,” manager Brad Mills said. ”If something happens to go haywire, we can control it. We can roll the inning over or whatever. It would be a game situation, not necessarily just throwing to hitters.”
Lyon, who had a cyst drained in his right shoulder in January, threw 25 pitches to hitters Sunday with incident with Astros general manager Ed Wade, Mills and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg watching. Wade said Lyon threw all his pitches and looked smooth.
“I know both Arnsberg and Mills were really happy with what they saw,” Wade said. “It seems like he’s on schedule at this point. Brad Arnsberg was really raving about his command, not just this outing but overall. He said he could throw his curveball for strikes at will. He was really complimentary of his overall command.”
Mills said right-hander Yorman Bazardo, who left Saturday’s game with a shoulder issue, will take off from throwing until Tuesday. Albert Arias, who’s suffering from shoulder inflammation, was scheduled to play catch Sunday for the first time in three days.
Mills gave a glimpse of the lineup could look like without Lance Berkman, who had minor knee surgery Saturday. Berkman could return by Opening Day, but if not Mills admitted he could have a similar lineup when the season starts if Puma isn’t healthy.
With Berkman out, Mills had Geoff Blum playing first base hitting fifth behind Carlos Lee and ahead of Pedro Feliz.
“We’ve still got a ways to go now, but at the same time it could definitely could,” Mills said. “We’re still playing around with that. That’s not necessarily set in stone. [Blum] has been swinging the bat well all spring long and if he continues to swing the bat well I think everyone would see why I want him in that fifth spot.”
Brett Myers threw 78 pitches (51 strikes) in four innings in Sunday’s game against the Braves. Myers, making his third start of the spring, allowed six hits, two runs, three walks and struck out six batters in his longest start of the year.
“I felt good,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I threw that many pitches. I worked out of some jams, but I felt like that third inning I kind of got squeezed a little bit. That’s part of the game and you have to pitch around that stuff, too.
“It was a little difficult for me not to throw my breaking ball in those situations because I probably won’t throw it to the next time, but it’s good to know I can get out of those situations with other pitches instead of just the breaking ball. It was a good day’s work for sure. I felt real good about.”
Myers threw mostly four-seam fastballs and changeups and tried to shy away from his breaking pitches, which made escaping jams challenging. He gave up a homer to Brian McCann in the second and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam. The Braves loaded the bases in the third and managed only a sacrifice fly. Five of the six hits he allowed were on change-ups.
“There’s plenty of time to get everything working,” he said. “I’m happy with the way my changeup’s coming around and my fastball location is pretty good. I’m pretty happy with the way it went overall because it’s getting better from the first time to second time and this.”
Please note I’m returning to Houston for a few days beginning tonight, so I won’t have any daily camp updates on this blog until Sunday, March 21. But don’t fret. Check back during the week for some other great stuff, including my Final Four prediction (hint: I see red).