Urquidy exits Astros' win with shoulder injury

May 1st, 2023

HOUSTON -- The Astros lost to free agency in the offseason and to injury at the start of Spring Training, which created an opportunity for rookie right-hander to join the rotation, all while testing their starting pitching depth.

The club can’t afford to lose another starting pitcher, which is why the sight of veteran right-hander walking off the mound in the sixth inning of Sunday night’s 4-3 win over the Phillies at Minute Maid Park with a right shoulder injury is a cause for alarm.

Urquidy was placed on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder discomfort on Monday -- his 28th birthday. Urquidy allowed two runs -- on solo homers by J.T. Realmuto in the second and Kody Clemens in the fifth -- and one other hit in 5 1/3 innings to snap his two-game losing streak. Houston recalled righty Brandon Bielak from Triple-A Sugar Land in a corresponding move.

Urquidy's night was cut short when his 84th pitch missed well outside the strike zone with Nick Castellanos at the plate and the right-hander signaled he was done. After a quick visit from the trainer and manager Dusty Baker, Urquidy was removed from the game.

“I felt a little bit of pain in the back of my shoulder,” Urquidy said. “The last pitch, I was trying to throw a sinker there and I felt something a little bit weak in my shoulder and I decided to stop.”

Urquidy said he did some range-of-motion tests postgame with a team doctor and he had no issues.

It was a bounceback game for Urquidy, who allowed 10 runs and 14 hits over seven innings in his past two starts. He had allowed only four baserunners Sunday, including the two homers, before hitting Kyle Schwarber with a pitch with one out in the sixth. When his next pitch, which was supposed to be a sinker inside, missed outside, catcher Martín Maldonado went to the mound.

“We were up by two right then, I said, ‘C’mon, papi, you’ve got to execute pitches and you can’t be missing that far out,’” Maldonado said. “He was supposed to throw a sinker in and he missed to the other side of the plate.”

Urquidy’s next pitch, which would prove to be his final pitch, was supposed to be a changeup down and Maldonado could see Urquidy took a shortcut with his arm action. He said Urquidy told him he felt a little cramping.

Urquidy was on the injured list twice in 2021 with shoulder issues, including a two-week stint with posterior shoulder discomfort. He said Sunday’s injury didn’t remind him of the injuries he dealt with two years ago.

“Nothing like that,” he said. “I got a test and everything was OK.”

Last year, the Astros had so much pitching depth they moved Urquidy and fellow starter Luis Garcia to the bullpen in the postseason. Without that kind of luxury this year, it's no surprise the Astros turned to Triple-A Sugar Land’s roster with Urquidy on the injured list. Aside from Bielak, the other starting-pitching options on the 40-man roster at Sugar Land were J.P. France and Forrest Whitley, a 2016 first-round Draft pick who has a 6.00 ERA in 21 Triple-A innings.

Urquidy's injury soured an otherwise great night for the Astros, who avoided getting swept for the first time by winning the series finale against the Phillies in a rematch of last year’s World Series. Jake Meyers homered and Maldonado had an RBI double to break an 0-for-24 slump.

“It was huge, especially against a team we had faced in the World Series,” Baker said. “It was big for us to salvage a win here.”