Astros option Diaz to Triple-A; Morton returns
TORONTO -- The Astros have optioned reliever Dayan Diaz to Triple-A Fresno to make room for starter Charlie Morton, who makes his return from the disabled list for Friday night's start against the Blue Jays.
Manager A.J. Hinch announced the move after Thursday night's series opener in Toronto, which the Astros dropped 7-4. Diaz pitched two innings of relief, and the right-hander allowed one run on two hits and struck out three on 40 pitches, the third time he's thrown 40 or more pitches in 29 total appearances this season.
Those appearances have been split between the Triple-A and MLB levels for Diaz with contrasting results. The 28-year-old has handled Triple-A with ease, giving the Fresno Grizzlies a 2.16 ERA and 26 strikeouts over 25 innings. With the Astros, however, the right-hander owns a 9.00 ERA over his 13 innings.
The move returns Houston's bullpen to seven pitchers, and it's been a busy group. Entering play on Friday, only the Orioles have needed more innings from their relievers in the American League.
Morton, whose activation from the DL had been expected, will be making his first start in six weeks after dealing with a strained right lat muscle.
The veteran right-hander made 10 starts before hitting the DL with a 4.06 ERA while his strikeout total experienced a noticeable jump, up to 10.1 per nine innings.
In three rehab outings since June 22, Morton has worked his pitch count up from 36 to 47 and, finally, 74 in his most recent outing on July 2 with Double-A Corpus Christi.