HOUSTON -- Right-hander David Paulino, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Astros' No. 3 prospect and the No. 44 prospect in the game, was suspended 80 games without pay on Saturday for testing positive for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.The
HOUSTON -- Right-hander David Paulino, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Astros' No. 3 prospect and the No. 44 prospect in the game, was suspended 80 games without pay on Saturday for testing positive for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The 23-year-old Paulino, who made his Major League debut last year, was 2-0 with a 6.52 ERA in six starts for the Astros this season. He gave up seven runs on seven hits in four innings against Oakland in his most recent outing, on Wednesday. Paulino would be ineligible for postseason play with the Astros should they qualify.
"It's a shame, because he was off to a good start with us this year," said general manager Jeff Luhnow. "[He] had proved that he can pitch and help us at this level, and now he's not going to be able to do that this year or in the postseason. We'll have to wait until next year."
Paulino begins his 80-game suspension on Saturday and will not appeal, said manager A.J. Hinch, marking the first time an active Major Leaguer has been suspended for performance-enhancing drugs in Astros history.
"It's very disappointing," Hinch said. "This impacts clubhouses around the game from time to time, but you never think it's going to happen in your clubhouse. It's disappointing because of all the good that he's done in his career and to be effective, but it's the nature of the business when you try to find a competitive edge. The program's in place to catch these type of actions, and clearly, it worked."
While at Double-A Corpus Christi last year, Paulino was suspended by the Astros for an undisclosed violation of team rules. This year, the Astros called him up on May 30, when Joe Musgrove went on the disabled list, and Paulino had been in the rotation since then because of a rash of injuries to Houston's rotation.
With starters Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton and Collin McHugh -- and Musgrove another viable option at Triple-A Fresno, Luhnow said -- on the mend, Paulino's unavailability deepens the blow to the Astros' bullpen-reliant pitching staff. Houston will play a man down in Saturday's game before adding a player for Sunday's series finale against the Yankees.
Following Friday's game, left-hander Reymin Guduan was optioned to Fresno and right-handed reliever Dayan Diaz was improperly recalled prior to the 10 days after reporting to Fresno. Paulino's suspension temporarily lifted the 10-day rule, making Diaz available for Saturday's game.
Morton is scheduled to return to the rotation next weekend in Toronto. Keuchel and McHugh are expected to rejoin the five-man crew after the All-Star break.
"Obviously, as we're getting healthier, it's less of a problem," Hinch said. "Any time one of your guys that's either in your rotation now or in the depth, it makes it a challenge. ... That's unfortunate, but as far as replacing him, obviously, you guys know the names that we have and the names that are coming back from injuries. We'll have a formidable rotation between now and the All-Star break, and it'll get even stronger as the time goes. We're clearly disappointed and wish it wouldn't have happened."
Paulino made his big league debut last September, appearing in three games, including one start. He spent most of last year in the Minor Leagues and had a 2.00 ERA at three levels, splitting time between starting and relieving.
"He's remorseful," Luhnow said. "That's all I can really say. He feels bad about it, and he feels bad that he put the organization in this position. He'll learn from it, and I'm sure David will have a long and fruitful Major League career."
The Astros acquired Paulino (the player to be named in the deal) along with outfielder Danry Vazquez from Detroit in exchange for veteran reliever Jose Veras on Sept. 13, 2013. The Astros released Vazquez last year when he was suspended indefinitely by the Commissioner's Office as a result of his arrest for an alleged domestic violence incident.
Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston.