Results tagged ‘ Jeff Fulchino ’

Lyles staying in the rotation

With left-hander Wandy Rodriguez set to come off the disabled list and start Monday’s game against the Braves, the Astros created a roster spot by optioning reliever Jeff Fulchino to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Aneury Rodriguez, who has made eight starts, was moved back to the bullpen so the 20-year-old Jordan Lyles could remain in the rotation.

Lyles, the Astros’ top prospect, will start Thursday against the Pirates at Minute Maid Park. He’s 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three Major League starts. It also means Fernando Rodriguez, who threw two scoreless innings Sunday, remains in the bullpen.

“I didn’t have my mind made up or told myself I should or shouldn’t be here,” Lyles said. “If they told me I was going somewhere else to pitch, I would get my stuff ready for my next start, wherever it was. You can’t control that stuff. I’m happy to be here, and hopefully I’ll have another good start.”

Aneury Rodriguez, a Rule 5 pick up from the Rays, went 0-4 with a 5.80 ERA as a starter after beginning the season in the bullpen. Fulchino is 1-3 with a 4.88 ERA in 13 relief outings, but he’s 0-1 with a 12.60 ERA in five innings in his last five games.

“Fulchy’s got the stuff and has had some good success here the last couple of years,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “We want him to go down there and be able to work on command of his pitches and be able to throw the ball over the strike zone with consistency.”

Blown saves costing the Astros

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.

Taking a shot at the Astros 25-man roster

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:

CATCHERS (2)

Humberto Quintero

J.R. Towles

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.

INFIELDERS (6)

Brett Wallace (L)

Bill Hall

Clint Barmes

Chris Johnson

Matt Downs

Tommy Manzella

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.

OUTFIELDERS (5)

Carlos Lee

Michael Bourn (L)

Hunter Pence

Jason Michaels

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)

Brett Myers

Wandy Rodriguez (L)

J.A. Happ (L)

Bud Norris

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)

Brandon Lyon

Wilton Lopez

Fernando Abad (L)

Jeff Fulchino

Nelson Figueroa

Mark Melancon

Henry Villar

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.

Astros position breakdown: relief pitching

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.

RELIEF PITCHING

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 sign Bazardo, Englebrook and Fulchino

The Astros on Wednesday announced they had agreed to terms with three right-handed pitchers on their 40-man roster on one-year contracts with the corresponding Major League values: Yorman Bazardo ($400,000) Evan Englebrook ($400,000) and Jeff Fulchino ($425,000). .

Bazardo, 25, went 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA in 10 games, including six starts, for Houston in 2009. He spent the majority of his season at Triple-A Round Rock, where he posted a 9-6 record and a 3.20 ERA in 23 games, including 20 starts. He was named a Pacific Coast League All-Star and finished third in the league in ERA. Bazardo has appeared in 25 Major League games with Florida (2005), Detroit (2007-08) and Houston (2009) and has a 3-4 career record with a 6.86 ERA.

Englebrook, 27, went 3-1 record with nine saves and a 4.25 ERA in 30 relief appearances between Double-A Corpus Christi and Round Rock last season. He spent the most of the year at Corpus Christi, posting a 2-0 record and a 3.16 ERA in 21 games. Englebrook was added to the Astros’ 40-man roster following the 2009 season.

Fulchino, 30, was named the Astros Rookie of the Year after posting a 6-4 record and a 3.40 ERA in 61 relief appearances for Houston in 2009. Last season, he led all Astros relievers in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts (71). Fulchino has appeared in 74 career Major League games with Florida (2006), Kansas City (2008) and Houston (2009) and has a 6-5 record and a 4.20 ERA (45ER/96.1IP).

Meanwhile, infielder Jose Vallejo underwent surgery today on the fourth and fifth fingers of his right hand at Texas Orthopedic Hospital in Houston. As part of the procedure, Dr. Thomas Melhoff reattached the flexor tendons in Vallejo’s injured fingers.

Vallejo, who injured his fingers while preparing a meal during the Christmas holidays, will be out of action for approximately six months.

 

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