The Astros announced they’re activating reliever Pedro Báez from the 60-day injured list in advance of tonight’s game against the Rockies. Bullpen colleague Rafael Montero is landing on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder discomfort in a corresponding move. To open space for Báez on the 40-man roster, the club transferred righty Andre Scrubb from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list.
Báez, signed to a two-year deal over the winter, is finally in line to make his Astros debut. The 33-year-old missed a few weeks in Spring Training after testing positive for COVID-19, then felt soreness in his right shoulder during his attempt to ramp up a throwing program. The latter issue has kept him out of action for the past few months as the soreness has persisted. Fortunately, he’s now apparently healthy and able to contribute for the stretch run.
During his time with the Dodgers, Báez was quietly one of the league’s more consistent and productive relievers. He posted an ERA between 2.63 and 3.35 during each of his seven seasons in L.A. While Báez’s run prevention numbers never wavered, his peripherals have tailed off in recent seasons. The righty struck out a career-worst 18.6% of opponents last year with accompanying dips in swinging strike rate and velocity.
That came in a 17-inning sample during an anomalous year, though, and the Astros felt comfortable enough to add Báez on a $12.5MM guarantee. If he pitches at or near the level he showed throughout his Dodgers’ tenure, Báez would be a significant upgrade to a Houston relief unit that’s middle of the pack in terms of ERA (3.97) and strikeout/walk rate differential (15.2 percentage points).
Houston added Montero alongside Kendall Graveman from the Mariners at the trade deadline as part of an effort to shore up the bullpen. Montero had a nightmarish time in Seattle, but he’d begun his Astros tenure with six innings of one-run ball. He left Sunday’s game against the Twins with a shoulder issue, though, and his recovery timeline remains uncertain.
Scrubb is also down with a shoulder issue. The 26-year-old landed on the IL on July 19 with a strain. Today’s transfer rules him out for sixty days from that date, so he’s looking at a mid-September return in a best case scenario. There’s no word on whether or not the team expects he’ll be able to pitch again this season.
Manager Dusty Baker provided reporters (including Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle and Mark Berman of FOX 26) with updates on a pair of different injured players. Star third baseman Alex Bregman still isn’t ready to return, and his allotted twenty-day rehab window has passed. League rules stipulate that position players not prepared to return after the conclusion of their rehab period must remain inactive for at least five days before reembarking on a minor league assignment, so Bregman can’t return to game action until Friday.
Starter José Urquidy, meanwhile, is scheduled to begin his own rehab assignment tomorrow. Baker said the club is hopeful he’ll be back on a big league mound by September 1. Urquidy has been out since June 30 with right shoulder discomfort.