DETROIT -- Tyler White was not entering a high-leverage relief situation in the eighth inning Sunday as he stepped from first base, where he began the game, to the mound. His presence as a pitcher, in an eventual 13-1 loss to the Tigers, simply indicated that the Astros' bruised bullpen
DETROIT -- Tyler White was not entering a high-leverage relief situation in the eighth inning Sunday as he stepped from first base, where he began the game, to the mound. His presence as a pitcher, in an eventual 13-1 loss to the Tigers, simply indicated that the Astros' bruised bullpen couldn't take it anymore.
"We're not in a good spot right now," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We're beat up. And we're having to wear it a little bit."
Absent Will Harris, who returned to the disabled list Sunday after just coming off two days prior, the bullpen suffered heavy damage all weekend in the team's first losing road series since late April.
Excluding White, who allowed a two-run homer in his one inning, Houston relievers allowed 12 hits, five walks and 12 earned runs in 10 innings, which equates to a 10.80 ERA. On the plus side, closer Ken Giles earned his 22nd save on Friday (tied for eighth best in MLB) and has a 1.23 ERA in July.
If the Astros look for help outside of their clubhouse ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. CT on Monday, they may not have needed to look further than across the diamond this weekend. MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported Sunday that trade discussions between Houston and Detroit over Tigers closer Justin Wilson have recently gained traction.
Before Sunday's game, Hinch declined to speak about the trade potential of Wilson, instead saying he preferred to talk only about players on his team.
It's very possible the Astros opt to stand pat with their current group and hope for a speedy return of Harris, a 2016 All-Star, and bounceback performances from Francis Martes and Tony Sipp, who both struggled against Detroit.
Martes took the loss Saturday, allowing three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. Sipp let five of the six batters he faced reach safely on Sunday and gave up five earned runs in one-third of an inning.
By the start of the eighth on Sunday, deep into a blowout and having already thrown all eight relievers at least once over the weekend, Hinch turned to White, who had similar mop-up duty in a 13-5 loss to Baltimore last season.
White had only enough time for a handful of warmup tosses in the batting cage before heading to the mound, where he promptly took Alex Avila to an 0-2 count. Avila singled three pitches later and James McCann smacked a home run immediately after that.
There was no true pitching mix from White, though Statcast™ tried to credit him with an array of knuckleballs, changeups and the occasional cutter. He simply threw the ball over the plate, until the results from the first two hitters made him reassess how hard to throw.
"I was trying to just throw it normal, and then the first two guys hit it pretty good," he said. "So I just threw one really slow and then a little bit harder, and then I'd either slow it back down or throw it a bit harder than that."
The next three batters went down in order and White's 2017 pitching debut was done, followed shortly thereafter by the Astros' second loss in as many days. If Hinch has his way, and the bullpen recuperates, it'll be White's only pitching appearance of the season.
"I don't want to dwell too much on this series because we did have a winning road trip," Hinch said. "But there are a lot of guys in [the bullpen] that are battling through a lot of different things. We gotta just push our way through this little rut and get home."
Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.