Livan Hernandez released by Astros, signs with Braves

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UPDATE: Surprisingly enough, it didn’t take Hernandez long to find another gig. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that he’s signing with the Braves, who’ll apparently use the 37-year-old soft-tosser as a long reliever/spot starter. Good thing Calcaterra is on vacation today.

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Once thought to be a near-lock for the Astros’ rotation, Livan Hernandez was released today.

Hernandez signed a minor-league deal in late January and looked likely to eat some innings for an otherwise inexperienced pitching staff, but the 37-year-old right-hander got knocked around this spring and the Astros decided to give opportunities to Jordan Lyles and Kyle Weiland instead.

Hernandez was surprisingly effective for the Nationals in 2010, but allowed opponents to hit .291 off him last season while posting a 4.47 ERA in 175 innings. He struck out just 5.1 batters per nine innings and averaged 83.9 miles per hour with his fastball, so if Hernandez couldn’t crack what figures to be one of the worst rotations in baseball he may finally be finished.

Of course, I’ve said that before.

Charlie Morton exits start with discomfort in right shoulder

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Astros pitcher Charlie Morton left Sunday’s start against the Angels after just one inning due to discomfort in his right shoulder, the team announced. Morton yielded a one-out double to Justin Upton, who later scored on a wild pitch. He averages about 96 MPH on his fastball but sat in the 92-94 MPH range in his one inning of work.

Morton, 34, went on the disabled list with right shoulder discomfort on August 29 and returned on September 8. It’s bad news for the Astros, who may have to go into the playoffs without him. If that is to be the case, Lance McCullers would take Morton’s spot in the rotation. It’s also bad news for Morton, who is a free agent after the season and figures to be one of the more sought-after starters.

Morton entered Sunday’s start 15-3 with a 3.15 ERA with a 195/63 K/BB ratio in 163 innings of work.