Even on the heels of two clean performances coming out of an off day, Astros manager AJ Hinch believes his team could use another break to offset the heavy workload heaped upon its healthy regulars.
The Astros improved to 11-0-2 over their last 13 series with their 7-2 win Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays. They continue to win despite fielding a 25-man roster laden with minor leaguers and backups, due to five position players currently on the 10-day injured list.
Houston will seek its fifth series sweep since early May despite a trio of All-Stars unavailable for duty and a talented bullpen stretched thin in order to maintain bench depth.
Hinch has needed just three relievers -- right-handers Rogelio Armenteros, Chris Devenski and Josh James -- to cover six innings over the opening two games against the Blue Jays.
"Our guys have been pushing pretty hard, and some of these guys are pushing for jobs, and there's a number of guys I'm leaning on pretty heavily to play every single pitch," Hinch said.
"The bullpen has been worked heavily and we come back for more the next day and continue to win. I applaud the effort of our team, the discipline of our team and the everyday winning mentality that we bring," Hinch added.
Right-hander Brad Peacock (6-3, 3.42 ERA) will get the ball for Houston on Sunday. Peacock is 5-3 with a 3.51 ERA over a dozen starts this season, including going 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA and 45 strikeouts against 12 walks in his last seven starts and 40 1/3 innings.
Peacock is 3-0 with a 4.79 ERA over six career appearances (three starts) against the Blue Jays. He faced Toronto three times in relief last season, allowing no runs and one hit with seven strikeouts over three innings.
Rookie right-hander Trent Thornton (1-5, 4.78 ERA) will start the series finale for the Blue Jays.
Thornton, who suffered the loss in his most recent start on June 11 after allowing three runs on seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts over five innings at Baltimore, was a fifth-round pick of the Astros in 2015 and was shipped to Toronto in exchange for utility infielder Aledmys Diaz during the offseason.
Thornton has surrendered at least three earned runs four straight starts, pitching to a 5.66 ERA with 23 strikeouts against 12 walks over 20 2/3 innings.
The Blue Jays have suffered through their own bullpen issues, brought about by abbreviated outings from their starters. Aaron Sanchez and Clayton Richard provided a combined eight innings Friday and Saturday, and Toronto turned to right-hander Nick Kingham in the second game of the series just two days after acquiring him from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Kingham, who last pitched on June 7, was activated Saturday and allowed two runs on five hits over two innings and will serve a role in the Toronto bullpen moving forward.
"He wasn't sharp," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "Again, he hasn't pitched in a while, so I didn't know what to expect. He ended up with the two innings, gave up the home run and stuff but, you know, we'll see. It's his first outing."
--Field Level Media
Astros look to add Jays to sweeping list
More TOP STORIES News