KANSAS CITY -- The Astros have been cycling relievers between Triple-A Fresno and the Major League club the last few weeks in an effort to keep fresh arms in the bullpen, which is becoming a growing challenge as starters outside of Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers aren't consistently working deep into games.
On Wednesday, the Astros called up right-hander Dayan Diaz from Fresno for a third time this season. When Keuchel was scratched due to an illness just minutes before the game, Diaz was thrust into his first Major League start against the Royals -- logging just 2 2/3 innings and allowing three runs on four hits with three strikeouts in a 7-5 loss.
Left-hander Reymin Guduan was sent back to Triple-A following Tuesday's 9-7 loss to the Royals. He had worked two games in a row and would have been unavailable for a few days.
Astros starters pitched five innings or fewer in 21 of the first 59 games, though the bullpen workload entering Wednesday's game (195 1/3 innings) was middle of the pack among the 30 Major League teams. Still, manager A.J. Hinch is trying to delicately manage the workload of bullpen horses like Chris Devenski and Will Harris to make sure they're as fresh as they can be into September -- and perhaps beyond.
"It's hard," Hinch said. "You've got to get nine innings of outs and sometimes a lot of those come out of your rotation, and sometimes they come out of your bullpen and it usually cycles. There's also times where I'm trying to get guys from the bullpen into the game because they haven't pitched that much."
Just a few days ago, Hinch put Harris and closer Ken Giles into a game because they hadn't pitched in several days. In turn, Harris wound up being shut down on Tuesday because of his workload.
"It's a long season," Hinch said. "You have to stay disciplined with your guys if you want them to be able to go wire to wire."
Guduan made his third career appearance in Tuesday's loss to the Royals, allowing two runs and two hits with one strikeout in one-third of an inning. Diaz's only game action in the Majors this year was the second game of Houston's May 14 doubleheader against the Yankees when he allowed three runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning.
In 17 games at Triple-A, Diaz is 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA with seven walks and 23 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings.