HOUSTON -- The Astros are more than a month away from having to fill out their American League Division Series roster. The biggest decisions will concern the bullpen, which is now facing perhaps another key member not being ready for the start of the playoffs.
Brad Peacock, who on Tuesday made his third appearance since coming off the injured list, was placed back on the IL on Wednesday with more shoulder discomfort. Peacock said he felt a sharp pain in his shoulder during his 1 2/3-inning outing against the Rays. He was awaiting results of an MRI and an X-ray.
“It’s the same stuff I’ve been going through pretty much the whole year,” Peacock said. “I just don’t know what’s going on and need to find out.”
Astros manager AJ Hinch said he knew something was wrong with Peacock on Tuesday considering his velocity was down, his breaking pitches were flat and the Rays were taking comfortable swings. Even when Peacock came out of the game, Hinch could see it on his face.
“I just asked everybody to come clean,” Hinch said. “I knew he didn’t feel great, he didn’t look great. He was trying his best to get through his outing and kind of gut his way through it. He admitted he had some issues with his shoulder again, and [it] hadn’t really resolved itself. The best chance for us to have him at all for September or any sort of October consideration, we shut him down until we get some more answers.
“I feel bad for Brad because I appreciate how he wanted to kind of fight and grind his way through it, but what we were seeing on the field wasn’t what the best version of himself was. We’ll try to figure out what’s next.”
Peacock went 6-6 with a 4.13 ERA in 17 games prior to going on the IL for the first time, when he missed 42 games from June 28-Aug. 18.
“Last night it got a lot worse,” Peacock said. “I felt pretty good my first two outings [back from the IL]. It wasn’t anything serious to shut it down, but last night was pretty rough.”
All-Star reliever Ryan Pressly had surgery on his right knee last week and will be out until late September, putting his availability for the first round of the playoffs in question. Pressly said last week that his goal was to return before the end of the season. Hard-throwing right-hander Josh James (right shoulder soreness) is also on the IL, but he could be activated Monday after making his final rehab outing Wednesday at Triple-A Round Rock.
Sneed shuffle continues
Since having his contract purchased from Round Rock on June 27, relief pitcher Cy Sneed has burned a trail between Houston and the Triple-A affiliate. Sneed has been optioned five times in that span and called up six times, joining the club again Wednesday when Peacock was put on the IL.
“It’s kind of more comical than anything, especially when my buddies will text me and say, ‘Again?’” Sneed said. “That’s the life. Obviously, I’d much rather be doing this than sitting at Triple-A or at home. It adds to the adventure, I guess.”
Sneed said he and his wife, Hannah, have worn out the lanes on Highway 290 between Houston and Austin. The trip covers 170 miles, Sneed said without hesitating.
Two weeks ago, Sneed was optioned while the club was in Oakland, and he hadn’t even left the Bay Area before he was back. He managed to make it to Round Rock when he was optioned after Saturday’s game and pitched for the Express on Tuesday night.
With rosters expanding on Sunday, Sneed might be in Houston to stay for the season.
“Just hoping for four more days,” he joked.
Sneed has appeared in four games for the Astros this year, posting a 4.26 ERA in 12 2/3 innings. In 81 innings with the Express this year, he is 7-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 19 games (nine starts). He has appeared in only one game for the Astros in August, throwing two-thirds of an inning on Aug. 16.
Whitley headed to AFL
Astros right-hander Forrest Whitley, ranked as the No. 17 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, will return to the Arizona Fall League after being named the league’s best pitching prospect a year ago. It has been a tough season for Whitley, who started the year in Triple-A but was sent to the team’s spring complex in West Palm Beach, Fla., to “reset” his season.
Other Astros prospects headed to Arizona are shortstop Jeremy Pena (the team’s No. 9-ranked prospect), first baseman J.J. Matijevic (No. 18), right-handers Carlos Sanabria and Jojanse Torres and catcher Colton Shaver. The son of former big leaguer Geronimo Pena, Jeremy is a slick defender who has hit better than expected (.303/.383/.447) in his first full pro season.
After getting rocked in Triple-A to start the year, Whitley was sent to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, and he’s slowly making progress. In Wednesday's outing for Double-A Corpus Christi, he allowed one hit in 5 1/3 shutout innings, striking out eight and walking four. Whitley has 33 strikeouts and 18 walks in 20 2/3 innings at Double-A this year.