Results tagged ‘ Jordan Lyles ’

Game 3: Rough day for Astros pitchers

The Astros suffered their first Spring Training loss of the season when the Braves came to Kissimmee and beat them, 10-5, on Monday afternoon. And here I thought they were going to go undefeated. Here’s the boxscore.

Before we get to the breakdown, make sure you read the story of how Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson are pushing each other while they battle for the same spots on the field.

Here’s the breakdown:

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The only Astros pitcher who took the mound and didn’t allow a run was Henry Villar, who gave up one hit in his scoreless innings. Starter Jordan Lyles had a crisp second inning after a tough first inning, and Zach Duke stretched out to three innings and pitched out of trouble a few times.

Relief pitcher Xavier Cedeno struck out three batters in one inning of work around giving up a home run to Dan Uggla.

J.B. Shuck (2-for-2), Jed Lowrie (2-for-2) and Matt Downs (2-for-3), who got a start at third base, led the Astros’ 11-hit attack, which was their most in three spring games. Jordan Schaefer, Jason Bourgeois, J.D. Martinez, Chris Snyder and Joe Thurston also had hits. Jonathan Villar walked twice.

Bogusevic stole two bases. The Astros also turned three double plays. Also, the Astros didn’t strike out in 34 at-bats.

There certainly were plenty of teachable moments for Astros manager Brad Mills, who watched his pitchers allow 13 hits and six walks. The Braves had runners on base in all nine innings, allowing his pitching staff and his defense to see plenty of different situations.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Astros pitchers had trouble finding the strike zone, walking six batters. Lyles endured a 27-pitch first inning and wound up only going two innings, allowing four hits, two runs and one walk. Duke gave up three hits, two walks and one run in three innings.

Rhiner Cruz, the Astros’ Rule 5 pick, made his first appearance and didn’t retire any of the five batters he faced, giving up two hits, four runs (three earned) and two walks. Juan Abreu and Enerio Del Rosario each gave up one hit and one run in one inning of work.

Jack Cust went 0-for-3 and Fernando Martinez went 0-for-2, a day after hitting a three-run home run

WHAT THEY SAID: “There was a lot of defensive things we can take from this game because there were guys on and offensively there are some things we can take from the game. Again, I thought we ran the bases pretty good and were aggressive. Getting to the latter innings, the all-important strike kind of eluded us a little bit.” – Astros manager Brad Mills.

WHAT’S NEXT: First baseman Carlos Lee, who sat out the first three games of the spring season to rest his strained right hamstring, will make his Grapefruit League debut for the Astros against the Mets at 12:05 p.m. Tuesday in Kissimmee. Lefty Wandy Rodriguez will make his first start of the spring for the Astros and is scheduled to pitch three innings.

INJURY UPDATE: Catcher Humberto Quintero (back/hip) is still a few days from getting in the lineup. … Third baseman Jimmy Paredes (wrist) and infielder Angel Sanchez (back) continue to progress and are taking batting practice.

Here is the day in photos:

Carlos Lee scoops up a ball at first.

Matt Downs fields a ball at third base.

Livan Hernandez works in the bullpen.

Former Astros CF Michael Bourn walks to the batting cage with Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace.

Carlos Lee jokes around at the cage.

J.D. Martinez awaits batting practice.

Michael Bourn catches up with third base coach Dave Clark.

Michael Bourn and Carlos Lee get reacquainted.

Jack Cust stretches before BP.

Lyles hoping to get more out of his frame

Minor League pitching coordinator Jon Matlack took some extra time following workouts Friday to have a one-on-one, hands-on session with 21-year-old right-hander Jordan Lyles on one of the pitching mounds.

“We’re just tweaking some things that people have seen in my delivery that maybe there’s more energy I can put into it and the velocity would be greater,” Lyles said. “We were really bouncing thoughts off of each other and he was asking me what am I thinking, what am I doing. He’s trying to get the most out of my frame and my delivery.”

Matlack was a three-time All-Star hurler in a playing career that spanned 13 seasons. He also served as Detroit’s Major League pitching coach in 1996 and spent eight seasons as a Minor League pitching coach with the White Sox and Padres. The Tigers let him go in August.

For more on Lyles and the rest of the news of the day, including some health updates and what Cesar Cedeno is up to, click here.

And don’t forget to read my feature on newcomer Kyle Weiland.

Here is Friday in pictures:

Zach Duke in a "what now?" pose.

Pitcher Paul Clemens practices his sliding.

At least Lance Berkman's old number went to another native Texan -- Justin Ruggiano.

Bud Norris playfully claps at a teammate's sliding attempt.

Arcenio Leon throws a ball during PFPs.

Jason Bourgeois takes a cut during BP.

Pitching coach Doug Brocail throws to Kyle Weiland covering first.

Matt Downs reported and stretched.

Lyles moved to bullpen, sent to OKC

In an effort to limit the number of innings thrown by rookie starter Jordan Lyles, the Astros on Sunday said they would option him to Triple-A Oklahoma City and pitch him out of the bullpen for the rest of the year.

Astros general manager Ed Wade said the plan is for Lyles to be called up when rosters expand on Sept. 1 and continue to have him perform in a relief role the remainder of the season. The team hasn’t said who will take Lyles’ spot in the rotation.

“No one ever wants to go down, even if it’s for however long,” Lyles said. “If they feel it’s the best for the organization, I’m going to go with it.”

Wade, manager Brad Mills and pitching coach Doug Brocail have talked at length about the best way to limit the 20-year-old right-hander to no more than 170 innings. The move to send Lyles was done in an anticipation of outfielder Jordan Schafer being activated from the disabled list Monday.

Lyles picked up his second Major League win by beating the Giants on Saturday, allowing two unearned runs in five innings. He’s thrown a combined 148 2/3 innings this year between Oklahoma City (59 innings) and the Major Leagues (89 2/3).

“We told him this is not a demotion,” Wade said. “This is a plan we put together to handle what we feel are his best interests and our best interests. We still see him as a starter. I told him this is a conversation we usually have at the end of the year with a guy, but he’s done a good job. He certainly handled himself very, very well for a guy at his age and handled every challenge we put in front of him.”

Schafer, acquired from the Braves on July 31 in the trade for Michael Bourn, has yet to appear in a game for Houston. He’s been on the disabled list since July 20 with a left middle finger joint injury and was scheduled to play his final Triple-A rehab game on Sunday. He was 5-for-5 with two stolen bases for the RedHawks on Saturday.

Astros to closely monitor Lyles’ innings

Astros manager Brad Mills said Sunday he’d like to limit rookie right-hander Jordan Lyles to about 165 or 170 innings this season. Lyles has thrown a combined 106 innings between Triple-A Oklahoma City and the Astros this year heading into his start Monday against the Nationals.

Lyles, 20, is 64 innings shy of reaching 170, which would mean he could make another 10-11 starts if he throws six innings per start. He threw a career-high 158 2/3 innings last year combined between Triple-A Round Rock and Double-A Corpus Christi.

“Getting up to near 165, 170 is what we kind of though about,” Mills said. “We might go over that a little bit, depending on where he’s at. Those are some pretty good numbers. If he reaches that, we really need to take a look at it. You’re looking at a 15-20 [innings] increase.”

The Astros plan to keep Lyles in the rotation for the near future and will figure out the best way to limit his innings the closer they get the 170-inning benchmark.

“Now if it becomes a situation where he’s having some really hard innings or had some tough outings or whatever, we might need to may skip him or whatever,” Mills said. “That’s not in the plans now. We’re going to kind of wait and see how that plays out as we move forward, and we’re a ways away from that yet.”


Lyles not satisfied with strong outing

Jordan Lyles, the youngest player in the Major Leagues, was denied his first big league victory Tuesday when the Astros bullpen coughed up its 15th blown save of the year, which is a Major League high. Lyles pitched well once again, allowing seven hits and three runs in seven innings in his fifth start.

The Astros led, 4-3, when Lyles left the game and the Rangers eventually won, 5-4, in extra innings on Mitch Moreland’s walk-off homer in the 11th. Lyles allowed solo homers to Michael Young in the second and Nelson Cruz in the fourth, and an RBI triple by Endy Chavez in the seventh.

Despite delivering his third quality start, Lyles had a hard time seeing beyond the Astros’ 14th loss in 18 games.

“First of all, we got a loss, so no, not really,”  he said. “But I stayed away from crooked numbers. If I’m going to give them up [home runs], glad no one is on base. That was the positive side.

“The one to Michael I just left over the plate. Great hitter. Makes me pay for that and he did. The one to Cruz initially I didn’t think I got it down enough, but I saw the replay and it wasn’t too bad of a pitch, I think. It’s more of a good hitter putting a good swing on it.”

Astros manager Brad Mills was understandably impressed with his young pitcher.

“He did a great job,” he said. “I know he gave up a couple of home runs, but it was sure nice to see him jump right back in there after he gave up the home runs. A lot of young guys can kind of let that get to them, but he didn’t. He came right back after hitters and really did a good job through seven. He battled and kept his pitch count down and really gave us a chance to win the game.”

Lyles said the Rangers’ lineup posted his biggest challenge to date.

“It’s a great lineup,” he said. “By far the best I’ve seen. Just make sure you stay a little bit more focused than you would with a regular lineup because they’ll put up a four spot in no time. You can’t let up any time with any lineup, but this one will make you pay for it in short time. You’ve just got to stay a little bit more focused and just make your pitches and attack the lower half of the strike zone and hopefully they hit it at someone.”

In his previous start against the Pirates, Lyles allowed a three-run homer in the first inning and then retired 15 in a row. He said he came out determined to have a clean first inning.

“I wanted to attack the first inning and not go out there and feel my way through it,” he said. “I wanted to get ready in the bullpen and attack from strike zone, from the first batter.”

Lyles is relatively new to the Astros’ late-inning struggles, but he said all the right things post-game to reporters and showed poise.

“No one wants to lose,” he said. “Guys are going out there trying the best to get guys out, but sometimes it just doesn’t fall the way you want it to. Sometimes they don’t hit it at people. Just baseball, and we’ll bounce back. We’re not going to change anything we’ve been doing. I think we’ve been playing pretty good. Make a couple of pitches here, a couple of more extra hits and we can turn it around.”

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.”

Lyles’ debut most anticipated since Pence

Astros manager Brad Mills said it best Sunday when he said he told Jordan Lyles he could be with the club for two starts or 20 years. Whatever the future holds, it begins now. The Astros’ top prospect – only 20 years old – makes his long-anticipated Major League debut tonight at Wrigley Field for the Astros when they face the Cubs.

Barely three years removed from his high school graduation and being drafted 38th overall by the Astros (who gave him a $930,000 bonus), Lyles’ debut is the most anticipated in team history since perhaps Hunter Pence in 2007. Pence was the Astros’ top prospect when he made his Major League debut on April 28, 2007 at Minute Maid Park, going 1-for-3 in a 10-1 win over the Brewers. He went 2-for-4 the next night and has been in the lineup since.

Of course, Pence was 24 years old by the time the Astros finally called him. He had a terrific spring that season, but the Astros were committed to finding a way to keep former top prospect Chris Burke on the roster with Craig Biggio closing out his career with his final season at second base. Despite being the most difficult out in the Grapefruit League in 2007, Pence opened the season at Triple-A Round Rock, with Burke opening the year as the starting center fielder. It took less than a month for Pence to get called up, and later in the year he moved to right field, where he’s been entrenched since.

The Astros aren’t promising anything to Lyles more than two starts – tonight against the Cubs and Sunday in San Diego against the Padres. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez is expected to be healthy enough to return to the rotation by then, but if Lyles puts together two quality starts, the club is going to have a decision to make. They’re going to have to find a way to keep Lyles in the rotation, which could come at the expense of Rule 5 pick Aneury Rodriguez.

But first things first.

Lyles got off to a rough this year at Triple-A Oklahoma City, but has slowly gotten into a groove. He pitched six innings in his most recent start May 25. In his last three starts, he was 2-1 with three earned runs allowed in 20 2/3 innings. Like Pence did four years earlier, Lyles dazzled the Astros in Spring Training with his composure and competitiveness, but began the season in the Minors anyway.

For a Minor League organization that hasn’t had many prospects to get excited about in recent years, the Astros can’t help but be excited about Lyles. Whether this is the start of a terrific Major league career or something else remains to be seen. But there’s little doubt it’s time to see what Lyles can do.

Lyles on his way to Astros

The Astros announced Saturday afternoon they will place left-hander Wandy Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list Monday with fluid in his left elbow joint and will purchase the contract of top prospect Jordan Lyles, a right-handed pitcher, from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Lyles, 20, the Astros’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year last year, will make his Major League debut on Tuesday when he gets the start for the Astros against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He’s 3-3 with a 3.20 ERA in 10 starts this year for the RedHawks. Lyles is also scheduled to start June 5 in San Diego, manager Brad Mills said.

“He’s been pitching well,” Mills said. “His last outing [Wednesday] was six shutout innings and he only threw 77 pitches. He’s put some pretty good outings together. Everyone’s excited with the way he threw in Spring Training for us and we’re exited for him. This will be a good time to see him pitch.”

Rodriguez underwent an MRI on Saturday morning because of discomfort in his elbow. He was scheduled to start Saturday’s game against Arizona, but was scratched on Friday. Rodriguez is 3-3 in 10 starts this season with a 3.41 ERA, and is 3-1 in his last seven starts with a 2.16 ERA.

In Lyles’ last seven starts, he has been one of the top starting pitchers in Triple-A, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.00 ERA. In that span, he has allowed two runs or less in six starts and one run or less in four starts.

Lyles, the club’s 38th overall pick in 2008, dazzled the Astros in Spring Training, posting a 1.98 ERA in five appearances while competing for the fifth starter’s job – a spot that eventually went to Nelson Figueroa.

To make room for Lyles on the 40-man roster, catcher Jason Castro will be transferred to the 60-day disabled list.



Lyles among 7 cut by the Astros on Monday

The Astros trimmed their spring roster by seven players Monday morning, with the most notable player on the list being top prospect Jordan Lyles, who had a 1.98 ERA in 13 2/3 innings and appeared to be one of the favorites for the fifth starter’s job.

Astros manager Brad Mills informed Nelson Figueroa on Monday he had won the fifth starter’s job. 

The Astros set their pitching rotation, with the 36-year-old Figueroa – the oldest player on the team – securing the final spot behind right-hander Brett Myers, left-handers J.A. Happ and Wandy Rodriguez and right-hander Bud Norris.

When the Astros open the season with a three-game series at the Phillies on April 1, two of their three starters will be former Phillies. Myers will start Opening Day against Roy Halladay and be followed by Rodriguez, who will face Cliff Lee on April 2, and Happ, who will square off against his old team and former Astros ace Roy Oswalt in the series finale April 3.

Cutting Lyles had to be a difficult call, but considering he’ll pitch at 20 years old all season and has barely gotten his feet wet at Triple-A, it was certainly understandable.

The Astros also optioned pitcher Sergio Escalona to the Minor Leagues and reassigned pitchers Patrick Urckfitz, Fernando Rodriguez and Casey Fien and outfielders Drew Locke and T.J. Steele. The one non-roster outfielder still in the mix is J.B. Shuck.

“I knew it was coming, sort of,” said Lyles, who will open the season in the rotation at Triple-A Oklahoma City. “I’ll just go down there to camp for a little bit, get ready for the season, have a couple of good months and see what happens.”

Lyles said he wasn’t surprised by the news.

“I knew being younger and the money side of the game… But Figgy pitched well enough to earn a spot and you can’t hold that against him,” Lyles said. “I think I opened some eyes this spring. I know they haven’t seen me before, but now they have. Whenever they need a guy to go out there on the mound for them during the season, maybe I’m first in line.”

Lyles said Astros management just told him to continue what he’s been doing and didn’t give any hints about his immediate future.

“If it comes in a couple of months or at the end of the season, it really doesn’t matter,” he said. “I just want to get ready and build on the season I had last year.”

Lyles was named the Astros’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year last year after going a combined 7-12 with a 3.57 ERA in a season split between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Round Rock. He got six starts at the end of the year in Round Rock and was 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA in his Triple-A debut.

“It will be good to get back there and to kind of get back to where I was at the end of the year,” Lyles said. “I didn’t really have the best starts last year, so it will be good to get back there and show them what I can do at the Triple-A level.”

Game 25: Lyles, Figueroa emerge in rotation battle

The Astros aren’t saying it just yet, but you can certainly read between lines. The race for the fifth starter’s spot appears to be down to veteran Nelson Figueroa and top prospect Jordan Lyles, both of whom pitched well in their outings Sunday.

Lyles pitched in relief and held the Pirates to two hits and one run and struck out four batters in 3 2/3 innings, drawing some terrific praise from manager Brad Mills and catcher Humberto Quintero, who said ‘Wow’ when asked about his first time catching the 20-year-old.

“I’m excited when I see a young pitcher like this throw that kind of stuff. I’m surprised and excited because I’ve never seen a 20-year-old throw fastballs and breaking balls like that,” Quintero said.

Figueroa started the other split-squad game against the Braves in Lake Buena Vista and gave up six hits and one earned run in five innings, lowering his ERA to 3.86. General manager Ed Wade admitted Figueroa might have come to camp with a leg up, and now it seems he’s pretty much a lock to make the team in some role.

“I think if you take out that inning and a half over there against the Phillies [on Monday], I think I put myself at the top of the list, hopefully, for the No. 5 starter job,” he said. “I definitely showed all the different things I could do — a continuation of last year — getting out there and pitching, keeping the team in the ballgame. They’ve been all close games for us. The bottom line is I think I can help this team out in that role all year long.”

What is known is that Ryan Rowland-Smith is out of the running for the rotation spot. The team told him upon his arrival at the ballpark Sunday he was now competing for a bullpen spot, and manager Brad Mills said following the game he was now being considered for a bullpen spot. A year after beginning the season as the third man in the rotation in Seattle behind Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez, Rowland-Smith couldn’t crack the Astros’ rotation.

“I want to have a good last week and embrace whatever role they give me and contribute,” Rowland-Smith said. “I’ve probably spent 50 percent of my career in the bullpen, and I’ve had a lot of success in the bullpen before I got a chance to start.”

If you look at the lack of innings Rule 5 picks Aneury Rodriguez and Lance Pendleton have been getting, it’s apparent they’re not being considered for the fifth spot. The team would have to offer them back to their former teams — the Yankees for Pendleton and Rays for Rodriguez — if they don’t make the 25-man roster, or they could work out a trade and keep them in the system.

“The two Rule 5 guys have done a nice job,” Wade said. “In their circumstances, even if we come to a determination that somebody else has stepped into the fifth spot, we’ll probably hold onto them as long as we can. Even if they don’t make the club, we’d love to keep them in the organization, but those are conversations we would have to have with the Yankees and the Rays.”


The Astros had their last of six split-squad dates of the season Sunday, and lost both — 3-1 to the Pirates in Kissimmee, and 5-3 to the Braves in Lake Buena Vista. I stayed in Kissimmee to watch Jordan Lyles, and I’m glad I did. Here’s a breakdown from that game:

What went right: Jordan Lyles threw 3 2/3 innings in relief and was dominant, holding the Pirates to two hits and one run and striking out four batters in 3 2/3 innings. Fernando Abad had a much needed good outing, throwing a scoreless inning, and Sergio Escalona and Enerio Del Rosario put up zeroes.

Del Rosario, acquired in a trade from the Reds last September, hasn’t allowed an earned run in eight outings, covering 10 innings of work. Mills said he’s in the thick of the race for a bullpen spot.

“He’s thrown the ball extremely well and continues to get outs and throw strikes,” he said.

At the plate, Humberto Quintero went 2-for-2 to raise his spring average to .440, and Jordan Lyles, Hunter Pence (1-for-3) and Matt Downs (1-for-3) had the other hits.

What went wrong: The Astros were stifled offensively by Pirates starter Charlie Morton, who threw six scoreless innings and struck out five batters. Michael Bourn (0-for-3), Anderson Hernandez (0-for-4), Carlos Lee (0-for-3), Brian Bogusevic (0-for-4) and Oswaldo Navarro (0-for-3) had tough days at the plate.

Lyles was charged with his first error of the spring when he dropped an easy tapper to the mound in the fourth inning.

What they said: “I’m just getting ready for the season. I’m still trying to get my arm in shape. I’m going out there and hopefully I can build on the season I had last year. I felt pretty good right now, like I did going into last season. I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing and see where it goes.” — Astros pitcher Jordan Lyles.

What’s next: Brett Myers, who will start for the Astros on Opening Day, will make his second-to-last Grapefruit League start when he faces the Detroit Tigers on Monday at Osceola County Stadium. Myers threw a spring-high five innings in his previous outing, and could approach 100 pitches against the Tigers before being backed down for his final spring start March 26. Among the others scheduled to pitch are Wilton Lopez, Mark Melancon and Jeff Fulchino.

Injury update: Wandy Rodriguez threw without issue in the bullpen Sunday and is good to go for Tuesday’s game after missing a start with mild shoulder tendinitis. … Infielder Angel Sanchez has dealing with a sore back and will be out until at least Wednesday.

Here are the photos:

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Above: Alberto Arias draws chuckles from teammates when he dives and slides across the grass to field a ball during drills on Sunday morning.

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Above: Brian Bogusevic flips to Patrick Urckfitz covering 1B during morning drills.

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Above: Wandy Rodriguez, who had missed a start with mild shoulder tendinitis, throws a light bullpen session on Sunday morning. He’s scheduled to pitch Tuesday.

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Above: Brian Bogusevic makes a throw to second base during morning drills.

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Above: See if you can find the ball. Dave Clark hits some balls to the outfielders.