Astros send 20-year-old Jordan Lyles back to Triple-A

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From Brian McTaggart of MLB.com comes word that the Astros have optioned young right-hander Jordan Lyles to Triple-A Oklahoma City, effectively ending his first season as a major league starter.

Lyles will return to the big leagues when rosters expand on the first of September, but only as a long man out of the bullpen. It’s doubtful he’ll be used more than three or four times down the stretch.

A supplemental first-round pick back in 2008, the 20-year-old earned a promotion to Houston after registering a 3.20 ERA and 41/16 K/BB ratio in 59 innings at the Triple-A level. He posted a 5.02 ERA, 61/23 K/BB ratio and 1.38 WHIP in his first 89 2/3 major league innings.

Lyles doesn’t turn 21 years old until mid-October, and should have a bright future if he continues developing.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.

Ervin Santana gets Opening Day nod from Twins again

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Ervin Santana will once again start on Opening Day for the Twins, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. He’ll face the Royals at home in a day game on Monday, April 3.

The last pitcher to start back-to-back Opening Days for the Twins was Carl Pavano in 2011-12.

Santana, 34, is entering the third year of a four-year, $55 million contract signed in December 2014. Last season, the right-hander finished with a solid 3.38 ERA and a 149/53 K/BB ratio over 181 1/3 innings.