The Astros have designated Ralph Garza Jr. for assignment, according to Chandler Rome of The Houston Chronicle. Rome speculates that this move is to facilitate the activation of Josh James. Before today’s game, general manager James Click told reporters, including Fox 26’s Mark Berman, that James was close to returning. James has shown flashes of excellent for the club over the past few years, especially his 2018 debut, wherein he threw 23 innings with an ERA of 2.35. But since that time, he’s struggled with both inconsistency and injuries, most notably undergoing hip surgery in October of 2020. The Astros made some additions to their bullpen before Friday’s trade deadline, bringing in Kendall Graveman, Yimi Garcia, Rafael Montero and Phil Maton. Getting James back into the fold could further bolster the relief corps as the team gears up for a pennant race. The club is currently atop the AL West, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Athletics.
As for Garza, he made his major league debut earlier this year and has thrown 11 innings out of Houston’s bullpen, with an ERA of 4.09 and a solid strikeout rate of 28.6%, but a poor walk rate of 14.3%. Although those numbers aren’t excellent, Garza is 27 years old and can be optioned to the minors, meaning he could be of interest to a club that just created some vacancies at the deadline.
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- As noted in Mark Berman’s tweet above, Click is hoping that Alex Bregman and Pedro Báez could return by “this homestand, but we’re still assessing.” The Astros are currently on the road, meaning that Click was likely referring to the upcoming homestand from August 5th to 11th. Báez had been a mainstay of the Dodgers’ bullpen until reaching free agency after the 2020 season and signing with Houston. But he’s yet to make his debut for the Astros, largely because of a shoulder injury. Getting him healthy would be helpful for the bullpen, but nowhere near as impactful as the return of Bregman. The third baseman has been one of the best players in baseball in recent years but has missed more than a month with a quad injury. Before being placed on the IL, Bregman had a wRC+ of 120, which is actually his lowest mark since his 2016 debut.
- Michael Brantley left today’s game with “right ankle discomfort”, according to Rome. The 34-year-old outfielder is having an excellent season at the plate, hitting .330/.384/.477, for a wRC+ of 143, which would be the second-best of his career, after putting up a wRC+ of 151 in 2014. After the game, manager Dusty Baker said x-rays were negative and that he didn’t expect Brantley to hit the IL.