Astros turn to Paulino in series finale vs. Angels (Jun 11, 2017)
HOUSTON -- With right-hander David Paulino on tap to start Sunday's series finale for the Houston Astros against the Los Angeles Angels, his third turn in the rotation offers clear indication of how the club is trying to survive this rash of injuries.
Paulino is ranked as the Astros' second-best pitching prospect behind right-hander Francis Martes, who made his major league debut Friday night by working 3 2/3 innings of relief in a 9-4 loss.
Paulino made three appearances (one start) following his big league debut Sept. 8, 2016. He opened this season on the disabled list with right arm inflammation, but the Astros (44-19) had developed enough pitching depth during spring training that there was no need to rush Paulino.
But then came injuries to Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton and Joe Musgrove, and suddenly, the Astros found a need for Paulino and others to fill the rotation gaps.
"It's certainly a challenge; other teams go through it," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I'll have a starter every night that we feel good about, a bullpen we feel good about. Where we get our outs is not the significant part. It's the continual ability to put out a good pitcher."
Paulino (0-0, 4.66 ERA) will make his first career start against the Angels, against whom Paulino has allowed one hit with two strikeouts over three innings in one relief appearance. The start will mark the first of his career at Minute Maid Park.
Right-hander Jesse Chavez (5-6, 4.56 ERA) gets the nod for the Angels. He has started twice against the Astros this season, going 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA.
In 23 career games (seven starts) against the Astros, Chavez is 3-2 with a 2.86 ERA. He has made 13 of those appearances (three starts) at Minute Maid Park, where Chavez is 0-2 with a 3.81 ERA. The Angels have won his last two starts.
Late Friday, after their 9-4 win the series opener, the Angels (32-33) were celebrating their offense, one that appeared to be rounding into form and reborn following the loss of perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout 12 games ago.
But on Saturday, the Angels were handcuffed by Astros right-hander Mike Fiers, who allowed two soft singles before right-handed relievers Chris Devenski and Ken Giles combined to record four strikeouts over 1 2/3 innings to seal the 3-1 victory.
Without Trout, the tendency will be to judge every Angels run total as a referendum of their Trout-less offense. That is a flawed approach, and the Angels understand that results good and bad will come as they reshape their identity.
"Sometimes the hits are going to fall, and you're going to put some together," Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun said. "You put up big numbers. Other times, you can't get something to go your way.
"We didn't have a good day at a plate, and we lost a ballgame by two runs. We still had a chance. We had a guy on in the ninth inning, and someone puts a swing together, and we have a tie ballgame. It's how the game went today."