|11:10 AM PT12:10 PM MT1:10 PM CT2:10 PM ET14:10 ET18:10 GMT2:10 11:10 AM MST1:10 PM EST1:40 PM VEN22:10 UAE1:10 PM CT, August 17, 2017
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas Attendance: 27,949
Astros host D-backs with pitching staff getting healthier
HOUSTON -- A cursory glance at the Houston Astros' current disabled list reveals a quartet of pitchers who at one point or another provided reliability for a flexible and versatile staff.
On Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park, the Astros opened an eight-game homestand, starting with a two-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks that concludes Thursday. The stretch could prove pivotal to reversing Houston's recent downward trend, one tied in part to those absent pitchers.
Two of those arms, right-handers Lance McCullers and Will Harris, appear closer to a return than righty Michael Feliz and southpaw Tony Sipp. Harris' progress is especially timely.
While the Astros' overworked bullpen has stabilized recently, Harris' return, potentially on this homestand, would provide a shot in the arm. Harris completed a bullpen session Wednesday and is poised to face live hitters later this week. Should he clear that hurdle without issue, the Astros (74-46) would welcome back a do-it-all reliever capable of recording crucial outs.
"I miss him terribly," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He answers so many questions that we have throughout games with high-leverage roles to troubleshooting through some messes that we have sometimes in the middle innings. Gets righties out, gets lefties out, a big-moment type pitcher. We'll be happy to get him back."
Right-hander Mike Fiers (7-7, 4.36 ERA) will start the series finale for the Astros.
Fiers, 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA over four career starts against Arizona, surrendered a season-high-tying six earned runs on five hits over four innings in a 6-4 loss to the Texas Rangers on Saturday. Fiers paces the club in starts (23) and innings (128) and is tied for second with nine quality starts.
Left-hander Patrick Corbin (9-11, 4.52 ERA) will get the start for the Diamondbacks. Corbin, making his first career start against the Astros, is looking to reach double digits in victories for the second in his career. He finished 14-8 in 2013.
Corbin is 4-4 with a 4.42 ERA over 11 career interleague appearances (10 starts).
The Diamondbacks (66-54) might be approaching a rotation change in the coming week, with rookie left-hander Anthony Banda (1-3, 7.32 ERA) scheduled to make at least one additional start Sunday against the Minnesota Twins.
After pitching relatively effectively in his first two starts, allowing five runs over 11 2/3 innings, Banda struggled against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Astros in his previous two appearances, surrendering 11 runs over eight innings.
Working against the two best teams in their respective leagues makes for a tall task, though, so Banda will get at least one more chance.
"That's the game plan," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said.
The Arizona rotation could change soon thereafter. All-Star left-hander Robbie Ray, on the seven-day concussion disabled list since July 28, is scheduled to make a rehab start for high Class A Visalia on Thursday night. Should Ray, who was struck in the head by a line drive July 27, pitch effectively, he could be eligible for reinstatement Tuesday against the New York Mets.
"We're going to see how Robbie throws," Lovullo said.
Updated August 17, 2017