Astros going with a six-man rotation for a while

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Houston manager Brad Mills has decided to go with a six-man rotation through the All-Star break.  The reason? Bud Norris is coming back and the Astros are so happy with the guy who has been replacing him — Dallas Keuchel — that they don’t want to send him back down.

Eh, their call, but it’s not like Keuchel seems worth the fuss. He’s pitched superficially well in his brief stint, posting a 1.29 ERA in a couple of starts, but it’s a little misleading. He has 14 innings and in that time has only struck out five dudes while walking five. His k-rate has been fairly unremarkable in the minors too, and he’s mostly seen success when repeating a level, which is the sign of a guy who isn’t a stud prospect.

But hey, why not? The Astros aren’t going anywhere. If they want to take a closer look at Keuchel for a couple of weeks while giving some of the other starters a break, no biggie.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.