The Astros activated reliever Josh James from the 60-day injured list and optioned him to Triple-A Sugar Land last night. A 40-man roster spot was opened earlier in the day when right-hander Ralph Garza was designated for assignment.
James underwent left hip surgery last October, a procedure that originally called for a six-to-eight month recovery timeline. His rehab process was delayed a bit further by a hamstring issue, but the 28-year-old is now healthy enough to serve as a potential bullpen option in Houston down the stretch.
Between 2018-20, James made 68 appearances (including six starts) and tossed 101 2/3 frames, showing the ability to work multiple innings. James broke in with a 2.35 ERA over 23 innings as a rookie but hasn’t replicated that success over the past couple years. The hard-throwing righty has never had issues missing bats, striking out 34.1% of opponents on the strength of a huge 14.7% swinging strike rate over his big league career. James has struggled with control, though, walking an elevated 13.4% of batters faced. Between strike-throwing and health issues, he’s yet to cement himself as a consistent high-leverage reliever to this point, but he’s certainly flashed the upside to potentially do so moving forward.
In other Astros health news, star third baseman Alex Bregman was pulled from his rehab game with Sugar Land after experiencing some hamstring tightness last night, writes Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. The team called the early removal a precautionary measure, so it’s not clear whether it’ll have a substantial impact on the two-time All-Star’s return timetable. Bregman has been out since June 16 with a quad strain.