Astros manager A.J. Hinch can envision a fully healthy and weaponized Houston bullpen, one armed with options providing both the depth and versatility required to thrive in the postseason.
The Astros welcomed one of those arms back Tuesday when right-hander Brad Peacock made his first appearance since June 27 and worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings in the Astros' 6-3 win over the Detroit Tigers in the second game of a four-game set at Minute Maid Park.
Peacock allowed one hit and one walk while recording three strikeouts in his first relief appearance since April 17, and he was credited with the win.
Peacock missed 42 games with right shoulder discomfort. With him back in the fold, Hinch has another experienced arm to deploy, both in the interim should his services be required again against the Tigers, and down the line as the Astros strive for a third consecutive American League West title.
What role Peacock ultimately lands will depend upon his performance.
"We'll see how he pitches," Hinch said. "We have a lot of guys throwing the ball well. I kind of like the competition down there. We're going to get a little healthier, rosters expand in September, so I'd like to see him come in and be a troubleshooter like he's been when we've had him in the 'pen. But it's just nice to have him back healthy and pitching again."
Right-hander Justin Verlander (15-4, 2.81 ERA) will start for the Astros on Wednesday. He is 5-0 with a 2.30 ERA over his past seven starts and has recorded double-digit strikeouts in a franchise-record six consecutive outings, posting 68 strikeouts over 37 innings during that span.
Verlander is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three career starts against the Tigers, for whom he compiled a 183-114 record and 3.49 ERA over 380 starts. He defeated Detroit 5-1 on May 15 at Comerica Park after allowing one run on two hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over seven innings.
Detroit left-hander Daniel Norris (3-10, 4.82 ERA) will make his 23rd start of the year and 26th appearance overall on Wednesday. He twirled three shutout innings in his latest appearance, allowing one hit and two walks with three strikeouts against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.
Norris has faced the Astros twice previously, posting an 0-1 record with a 4.91 ERA and eight strikeouts over 11 innings.
He allowed five runs on eight hits and one walk with three strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings against Houston on Sept. 12, 2018, at Comerica Park. In his lone career start at Minute Maid Park, he received a no-decision after surrendering two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings on May 24, 2017.
Norris will offer the Tigers a veteran presence on the mound, something rookie right-hander Spencer Turnbull could not Tuesday. Turnbull logged 73 pitches while completing just three innings, laboring against a patient Astros lineup that provides lessons to inexperienced hurlers.
"When you're playing these teams like the Astros, those guys can work you," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They work the counts and know how to make you throw a lot of pitches. That's what happens with those good hitters."
--Field Level Media
Astros, Verlander aim for another win over Tigers