With the regular season quickly coming to a close, the Houston Astros remain in somewhat of a precarious position with regards to their starting rotation.
The American League West leaders hope to stabilize things Wednesday night when they visit the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas.
Veteran right-hander Zack Greinke returned from a two-plus week stint on the COVID-19 related injury list Tuesday and surrendered a season-high eight runs (seven earned) over five-plus innings in the Astros' 8-1 road loss to the Rangers. After stringing together 16 consecutive starts allowing two or fewer walks, Greinke walked three batters while Texas recorded an average exit velocity of 102.1 miles per hour against his four-seam fastball.
That effort by Greinke followed the Astros placing Jake Odorizzi on the 10-day disabled list with right foot soreness, an injury the right-hander suffered in the series opener. The Astros are attempting to nurse rookie right-hander Luis Garcia, who has thrown a career-high 139 innings, through the final weeks of this season while also carefully stretching out right-hander Jose Urquidy, who recently returned to the rotation after spending two months on the injured list.
With Greinke on a pitch count, the Astros had relievers Yimi Garcia, Blake Taylor and Brooks Raley work consecutive nights after Odorizzi left with his injury in the second inning on Monday.
"You've got to commend them for taking it big time because yesterday's injury really hurt us, and we've got 12 days to go before an off day," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "We've got to get right side up with our pitching."
Urquidy (6-3, 3.51 ERA) has the starting assignment for the Astros in the third game of this four-game series. Urquidy has thrown a total of 141 pitches over his two starts since returning from the injured list with right shoulder soreness, posting a 4.91 ERA and .789 opponent OPS while not recording a decision.
In the three starts prior to his injury, Urquidy was 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA and a .419 OPS allowed. Urquidy is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA over three career starts against the Rangers but has not faced Texas this season.
Rookie right-hander Kohei Arihara (2-3, 5.89) will start for the Rangers on Wednesday. In two appearances since returning from the 60-day injured list, Arihara is 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA and six strikeouts against one walk over eight innings. He did not factor into the decision in his previous appearance after allowing two runs on four hits and one walk with three strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings in the Rangers' 8-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 8.
Arihara, 0-2 with a 9.22 ERA at Globe Life Field this season, will make his first career start against Houston.
The Rangers showcased the resiliency that has become their calling card of late by quickly rebounding from a 15-1 loss in the series opener. Texas bashed a trio of home runs off Greinke, with Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis Garcia slugging two-run home runs before DJ Peters chased Greinke with his three-run shot to center in the sixth inning for his 12th home run of the season.
One night after falling behind 9-0, the Rangers led 8-0 following Peters' blast.
"When we scored early. ... It was kind of like a re-run 24 hours later," Peters said. "That's the beautiful thing about baseball."
--Field Level Media