Yankees, Astros look to win rubber match in weekend series (Jul 02, 2017)

BY AP • July 2, 2017

HOUSTON -- Just when the notion of a relatively healthy rotation started to become more than a dream for the Astros, they were hit with unfortunate news on Saturday that will have a negative impact until their rotation is fully intact.

Right-hander David Paulino (2-0, 6.52 ERA) was suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. He tested positive for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance, just as the club was set to welcome back right-hander Charlie Morton from the 10-day disabled list. With Paulino gone, the Astros remain in a holding pattern until ace left-hander Dallas Keuchel returns from the neck injury that sidelined him June 5.

"He's one of our starters so obviously as we're getting healthier it's less of a problem," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Paulino. "But any time one of your guys is either in your rotation now or in the depth it makes it a challenge.

"As far as replacing him, you know the names that we have and the names we have coming back from injuries, and we'll have a formidable rotation between now and the All-Star break, and it will get even stronger as the time goes."

Right-hander Mike Fiers (5-3, 3.98 ERA) will start for the Astros (55-27) on Sunday in the rubber match of their series with the Yankees (43-36). Fiers had his four-game winning streak snapped with a 6-4 home loss to the Athletics last Tuesday, and has a 7.59 ERA over two career starts against the Yankees, including an outing on May 14 when he allowed four runs on four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings in an 11-6 loss at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees will counter with right-hander Luis Severino (5-3, 3.15 ERA), the fifth-youngest pitcher to start a game in the American League this season. Severino is 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA over his last 10 starts and ranks fourth in the AL in strikeouts (107) and seventh in ERA. He has a 6.23 ERA over two career appearances (one start) against Houston.

Part of the Yankees' push to win the series will come from outfielder Clint Frazier, who made his major league debut on Saturday night and finished 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and two runs. Frazier was determined to be a distraction during his first spring training due to his long red hair, a coif that was later trimmed. As the No. 2 prospect in the Yankees system, Frazier is renowned for so much more.

"I think people forget how young he is. He's a kid," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's a kid that should be just getting out of college. If I was to poll everyone in front of me, there are probably some things we did at 22 that we probably wish we would have done a little different. But, that's who we were at that age.

"I've never found him to be a real big distraction. He gets a lot of attention. I still believe he wants to be known for the way that he plays, and everything that I've seen is he plays hard, and that's a real good thing. And he's talented. And that's a real good thing. I like him."

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