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Pressly eyes Astros record as he stays dominant

@brianmctaggart
April 29, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- In his return to the Twin Cities, where he spent the first 5 1/2 seasons of his career playing for the Twins, Astros reliever Ryan Pressly is closing in on the club record for most consecutive scoreless innings. Pressly entered Monday’s series opener at Target Field having not

MINNEAPOLIS -- In his return to the Twin Cities, where he spent the first 5 1/2 seasons of his career playing for the Twins, Astros reliever Ryan Pressly is closing in on the club record for most consecutive scoreless innings.

Pressly entered Monday’s series opener at Target Field having not given up a run in his last 30 1/3 innings, which is already a club record for a reliever. It’s also the fourth longest such streak by an Astros pitcher, trailing only two 31-inning streaks by J.R. Richard (in 1980) and the club record of 32 1/3 innings by Roy Oswalt in 2008.

“I think it’s just trusting the process,” Pressly said. “I think it’s just more throwing everything for a strike. That opens up a lot of doors for a lot of people. When I’m able to throw breaking balls and fastballs for strikes, it allows me to do a lot of things I want to do when I’m out there, and that’s a big reason why I’m having success.”

Pressly has allowed two earned runs in 35 2/3 innings since joining the Astros from the Twins last July 27, striking out 45 batters and walking three with a 0.50 ERA. One of those runs he allowed came on a homer in his first outing with Houston on July 28. Pressly’s xwOBA in that span is .230, which is the third highest in baseball.

Since coming to Houston, Pressly has thrown 10 percent more curveballs than he did with the Twins, which has reduced his contact rate dramatically. He threw 20.5 percent curveballs with the Twins and 36.1 percent since joining the Astros. The spin rate on Pressly’s curveball is the best in baseball. His curve averages 3,269 rpms, which leads MLB (minimum 50 curveballs thrown).

“Our front office did a good job identifying him and his strengths,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “There’s been endless conversations about his spin and the usage of his breaking ball, the elevated fastball, and he’s throwing strikes now, which I know he struggled with early in his career.

“We got him with the idea he was going to be a high-leverage reliever for us, and he’s over-delivered. He’s resilient. He can pitch every day. He’s gone through stretches in most of his Astros tenure being unhittable. When we targeted him as an organization, it was for all the characteristics we talk about, and what he’s done productively on the field has been exceptional.”

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.