Off injured list, Pressly back in action quickly

Peacock could be activated as early as Sunday; Gurriel scratched with stomach illness

September 21st, 2019

HOUSTON -- Just in time for the playoffs, the Astros welcomed one of their best relief pitchers back from the injured list after he missed a month following right knee surgery. Right-hander , who parlayed a spectacular first half into his first All-Star nod this year, retired all three batters he faced, including two strikeouts, in his return to action in Friday’s 6-4 win over the Angels.

“I had to push through some things and finally got everything all fixed and ready to get back out there and get the competitive juices flowing again,” Pressly said pregame.

Pressly’s return gives Astros manager AJ Hinch a key arm in the bullpen and will stabilize the back end of the ‘pen once Pressly is inserted back into his setup role, which won’t be right away.

“It’s huge,” Hinch said. “To make the All-Star team as a reliever, it’s really hard. You’re up against a lot of things that usually don’t work out for high-end relievers, and he made the All-Star team for a reason. Huge weapon for us. He’s going to pitch incredibly important innings for us down the stretch and also into October.”

Hinch had planned to pitch Pressly in Friday’s series opener against the Angels regardless of the score, though not in his typical setup role he had before he injured his knee in late July. He worked a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out Matt Thaiss and David Fletcher.

“I thought his stuff was a little better than maybe I even expected just based on, was he going to be able to control his adrenaline? Was he going to come in and be sharp?” Hinch said. “When you miss time like that, especially with the power breaking balls he has, never quite sure how it’s going to come out.

“Usually you test that in a Minor League rehab assignment, but he didn’t have that luxury. I was happy with where we were able to get him in a game, get him up and get him in. In typical fashion for Press, when he punches guys out it kind of makes you feel like he’s right.”

Hinch said the Astros have mapped out a plan with Pressly and the medical staff on his schedule over the last week of the season. The goal is to get him ramped up to where he’ll be ready to pitch quickly and back in high-leverage spots.

“The faster we get his mindset back into being a reliever who gets up when me or [pitching coach Brent Strom] or somebody calls down, the quicker we get back to normal,” he said.

Pressly, who set a Major League record earlier in the season when he registered his 40th consecutive scoreless outing (Aug. 15, 2018-May 20, 2019), was hit on the knee by a comebacker in Anaheim in late July and pitched through pain for a month before he and the team decided surgery was necessary. He said every time he pushed off the mound, he felt a sharp pain prior to his surgery.

“Mechanically, I wasn’t sound,” he said. “Everything I was doing on the mound just didn’t feel right. You start guarding some things while you’re out there mechanically and you can end up hurting yourself even more. That’s the last thing I wanted to do, especially with the postseason coming up this quick. I think we caught it in time, just enough to get my rehab and get in some of these games before the postseason.”

Meanwhile, right-hander , who’s been on the IL since Aug. 28 with his second bout of shoulder discomfort, came through his live batting-practice session Thursday feeling healthy. He could be activated and pitch as early as Sunday, Hinch said.

“He is as happy and as comfortable as he’s been in a long time,” he said. “A lot of these guys will tell you that. I actually see it in his body language and in his demeanor and in his stuff. All of our information is that he’s doing quite well.”

Worth noting

• First baseman Yuli Gurriel was scratched from Friday’s lineup when he reported to the park with a stomach illness. Hinch said he was going to give Gurriel one of the three games off against the Angels anyway and hopes Gurriel can play Saturday. Aledmys Diaz started at first base in his absence.