HOUSTON -- With right-hander José Urquidy on schedule to return to the Astros’ rotation when rosters expand Sept. 1, Houston could employ a six-man starting pitching rotation in the final month of the regular season, which would help conserve innings for the other starters prior to the playoffs.
Urquidy, who’s been on the injured list since June 30 with right shoulder discomfort, is scheduled to make two rehab starts for Triple-A Sugar Land, starting with Tuesday’s game in which he will try to pitch five innings and 70-75 pitches. He’ll follow that with another rehab start Sunday and then could be activated from the injured list.
“I certainly want him back as soon as possible, but I don’t want him back to only go four or five innings, and that puts a lot of pressure on the bullpen,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I already got two guys who are kind of five-inning guys [in Luis Garcia and Jake Odorizzi]. We need ... potentially a seven-inning guy.”
Urquidy made his first rehab appearance Thursday in West Palm Beach, Fla., throwing 35 pitches in three innings, allowing one hit with three strikeouts. He threw an additional 15 pitches in the bullpen afterwards.
“I didn’t feel discomfort,” Urquidy said. “I was trying to throw the baseball normal and just trying to have good feelings in my shoulder and my body. I felt great. I threw three innings without discomfort."
Urquidy, who’s 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP in 14 starts this year, missed 13 games while on the injured list in May with right posterior shoulder discomfort. He said he underwent a PRP injection in his shoulder at the start of his second stint on the injured list, and that required 10 days of rest.
Rosters can expand from 26 to 28 on Sept. 1, and Urquidy will certainly take one of those two spots. The Astros will begin a stretch of 17 consecutive games without a day off on Sept. 10, and a six-man rotation would help conserve innings, especially for Garcia. The rookie has already thrown a career-high 116 2/3 innings.