Four games into a stretch of 19 scheduled games over 20 days, the Houston Astros might be in position to absorb veteran right-hander Jake Odorizzi into their starting rotation whenever he is reinstated from the injured list without removing a starter from what has been a scintillating mix.
One starter who seems keen on keeping his current spot is right-hander Cristian Javier, who followed his seven hitless innings against the New York Yankees last week with seven more exceptional frames in the opener of a three-game home series with the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.
Javier struck out a career-high 14 batters and retired his last 19 batters after allowing his lone hit, a solo home run to Shohei Ohtani in what resulted in an 8-1 Houston win. Over his past two starts, Javier has allowed one run on one hit and one walk with 27 strikeouts over 14 innings.
Odorizzi (lower left leg tendon strain) has made two rehab starts and appears near a return to the active roster. A six-man rotation seems more likely that bumping Javier back to the bullpen.
"Nobody is talking about that," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "We'll deal with that when it gets here.
"It could be room for both, especially with the stretch that we're in right now."
Right-hander Jose Urquidy (6-3, 4.36 ERA) has the starting assignment for the Astros on Saturday. He is coming off his best outing of the season, having limited the Yankees to one run on one hit and three walks with three strikeouts over seven innings while not factoring into the decision of a 6-3 road loss on June 26. It marked the second consecutive start in which Urquidy allowed just one earned run. He had surrendered at least three runs in each of his previous four starts.
Urquidy is 3-0 with a 4.03 ERA over seven career appearances (six starts) against the Angels. He allowed one run on four hits with two strikeouts over five innings in a 4-1 victory on April 10.
Left-hander Patrick Sandoval (3-2, 2.63) is the scheduled starter for the Angels on Saturday. He did not factor into the decision of his most recent start on June 25, when he allowed one earned run on eight hits and two walks with six strikeouts over five innings in the Angels' 5-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners. After winning three consecutive starts in May, Sandoval is 0-1 with a 4.01 ERA over his past five starts.
Sandoval is 0-3 with a 7.78 ERA in six career appearances (five starts) against the Astros. That includes his second start of this season, when he allowed one unearned run on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts over four innings in the Angels' 7-2 road victory on April 19.
Sandoval was selected by Houston in the 11th round of the 2015 draft and later acquired by the Angels in exchange for catcher Martin Maldonado on July 26, 2018.
With Angels interim manager Phil Nevin serving his 10-game suspension for his role in the brouhaha with the Seattle Mariners last week, bench coach Ray Montgomery served as the acting manager Friday. Montgomery will serve his two-game suspension beginning Sunday, leaving catching coach Bill Haselman as the acting manager for the series finale on Sunday while both Nevin and Montgomery are suspended.
"He'll be the interim-acting, interim-acting manager," Montgomery said of Haselman with a laugh. "I think that's how that goes."
--Field Level Media