Astros place Wandy Rodriguez on DL with elbow injury, will promote Jordan Lyles

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The Astros have placed Wandy Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list with fluid in his left elbow joint, reports Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.

As we mentioned here on HBT yesterday, Rodriguez was scratched from today’s scheduled start against the Diamondbacks with discomfort in his elbow. Bud Norris will move up a day to start in his place.

In yesterday’s post, I also speculated that top prospect right-hander Jordan Lyles could potentially get the call from the minors if Rodriguez required an extended absence and that’s precisely what will happen. Lyles is now scheduled to make his major league debut Tuesday against the Cubs.

Lyles, a supplemental first-round pick in 2008, has a 3.49 ERA over parts of four seasons in the minor leagues, averaging 8.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. The 20-year-old right-hander is 3-3 with a 3.20 ERA over his first 10 starts with Triple-A Oklahoma City this season. While not a hard-thrower, he has a four-pitch arsenal and a plus-changeup. He was ranked as the No. 42 prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to the season.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.