HOUSTON -- It's no secret the Astros' Scott Feldman's velocity has been up since he moved to the bullpen last month after making four starts, and the veteran right-hander even had to do a double take when he hit 95 mph with a fastball in the eighth inning of Thursday's
HOUSTON -- It's no secret the Astros' Scott Feldman's velocity has been up since he moved to the bullpen last month after making four starts, and the veteran right-hander even had to do a double take when he hit 95 mph with a fastball in the eighth inning of Thursday's loss in Chicago.
Feldman was throwing his fastball consistently between 88-90 mph, touching 91 mph in his last start, on April 24 against the Red Sox. He went 0-2 with a 4.58 ERA in four starts and is 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA in seven games out of the bullpen, with a marked increase in velocity.
"I don't think it has anything to do with being in the bullpen," Feldman said. "I think it has to do with getting my mechanics synced up better and working on some stuff with [pitching coach Brent Strom], trying to get my left leg up there quicker and try to get down the hill a little quicker to make my arm go quicker."
Astros manager A.J. Hinch hasn't ruled out Feldman returning to the rotation down the road, but said he's going to start factoring into a more crucial role in the bullpen, especially with rookies Chris Devenski and Michael Feliz capable of long relief.
"It's good to see him feel very comfortable in small doses," Hinch said. "He can empty his tank a little bit. He's been successful as a reliever before, and he's starting to inch his way back towards more prominent role and not so much a long-man relief. With Devenski and Feliz down there now, I can really utilize Feldman in different scenarios throughout the middle part of the game, very similar to what Will Harris was doing last season. And I like having that. The more velocity that creeps up, the more interesting he becomes."
Feldman, who said he hasn't thrown as hard as 95 mph since maybe 2011, admitted he was looking at the radar gun readings on the scoreboard at U.S. Cellular Field to see how much juice he had.
"I felt like I was throwing pretty hard and said 'I'm going to look at the gun,'" he said. "I looked at it almost every pitch."
After the game, some of his teammates were joking that Feldman should be in mix for closer, and when asked if he could sustain that kind of velocity in the rotation, Feldman said there was only one way to find out.
"That's the biggest thing is going out there and doing it in some games now," he said. "I know it's something I can at least do and repeat. I hope that it would be something I could go out there for as many innings as possible and do it."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.