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McCullers (back pain) to DL; Reed, Feliz up

MLB.com

HOUSTON -- While the Astros traded for Francisco Liriano to add a left-hander to their bullpen on Monday, Houston placed right-handed starter Lance McCullers Jr. back on the 10-day disabled list with lingering back discomfort.

McCullers was on the DL June 9-24 with the same ailment and has an ERA of 7.45 in his six starts since returning to Houston's rotation. The 2017 All-Star reached his breaking point during the Astros' 13-1 loss to the Tigers on Sunday.

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HOUSTON -- While the Astros traded for Francisco Liriano to add a left-hander to their bullpen on Monday, Houston placed right-handed starter Lance McCullers Jr. back on the 10-day disabled list with lingering back discomfort.

McCullers was on the DL June 9-24 with the same ailment and has an ERA of 7.45 in his six starts since returning to Houston's rotation. The 2017 All-Star reached his breaking point during the Astros' 13-1 loss to the Tigers on Sunday.

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"Coming off last time, I thought I was where I needed to be," said McCullers, who added he spotted his lingering back issue once again on June 30 vs. the Yankees. "That was the case for maybe the first start and a half. Ever since then, I've just been trying to get better midweek and grind through the starts. At some point, enough is enough."

The Astros activated Dallas Keuchel (neck) and Collin McHugh (elbow) from the disabled list within the last 10 days, so if there's a time for McCullers to heal his back, manager A.J. Hinch believes it is now, as the club entered Monday with a 16-game lead in the American League West.

"This has been nagging him for a while now," said Hinch. "Yesterday was a little bit of the breaking point, where he didn't feel like he could do anything right. He couldn't execute the pitches he needed to. It's time for us to address it and make sure he's completely right."

Right-hander Brad Peacock will assume McCullers' spot in the rotation, Hinch said. Peacock began this season in the bullpen before making 11 starts in place of the aforementioned injured starters and being sent back the bullpen last week. Peacock is 6-2 with an ERA of 2.93 in his 11 starts.

"Having a portion of Lance McCullers go out every five days and pitch when we have a capable replacement in Peacock just doesn't make sense with this team," Hinch said. "I hope he gets better quickly. I think it could be quick, but at the same time timelines are one of the trickiest things to do with injuries."

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)

McCullers has produced a 7.45 ERA across six starts since returning from his first disabled-list stint of the season, so fantasy owners may be tempted to move on now that he's hurt again. But with a lifetime 10.2 K/9 rate as well as the seventh-best FIP (2.96) among ERA-title qualifiers during the current campaign, the right-hander should be retained in all formats. Shallow-league McCullers owners should check waivers for a replacement such as Ian KennedyTrevor Cahill or Luis Castillo, while those in deeper leagues can take a look at Parker BridwellBrent Suter or Dinelson Lamet.

Reed, Feliz recalled

In addition to McCullers landing on the DL, Norichika Aoki was traded to Toronto for Liriano, so the Astros had two roster spots to fill. A.J. Reed was recalled from Triple-A Fresno, and right-hander reliever Michael Feliz was recalled from Double-A Corpus Christi. Another move will need to be made when Liriano arrives.

Reed, who is planned to handle duties at first base while adding another left-handed bat to the Astros' lineup, will arrive in Houston on Monday and is expected to be in Tuesday's lineup, Hinch said.

Feliz had just been optioned to Corpus Christi four days ago for a "mental break," but Peacock's move to the rotation created a need for him in the bullpen.

"He didn't really do anything. All of that stuff we wanted him to work on, hopefully he did it between my office in Philly and today when he was back in Houston," Hinch said. "He didn't pitch in a game. I think it was a good mental break for him as well, to settle things down a little bit. Unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to go and work on a few of the baseball things that we wanted him to. Situation changed over the weekend, and now he's back. He'll be fine. He's more than capable of getting outs for us. Maybe the break away was exactly what he needed."

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston.

Houston Astros, Michael Feliz, Lance McCullers Jr., A.J. Reed