After Monday's series opener between the Texas Rangers and the first-place Houston Astros, it was pretty apparent that the Astros' front office is not familiar with the term "long relief."
Working with a six-man bullpen, for whatever reason, the Astros saw their young starter Lance McCullers turn in his worst outing of the year as he was chased after nine batters — recording one out. The Astros immediately went to a late-game reliever in Josh Fields, who worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Then in the third inning, the Astros pulled a bit of an unorthodox move by going to Tuesday's scheduled starter in newly acquired Mike Fiers. Fiers proceeded to give up six runs on seven hits in five innings of relief before giving way to Chad Qualls in the eighth inning.
The Astros' pitching plan against the red-hot Rangers is now a mess, as they optioned McCullers to Triple-A after the game and recalled Dan Straily, who's pitched just two games in the bigs this season to make Tuesday's start ahead of Scott Kazmir on Wednesday.
With their short bullpen and no long man to speak of, the Astros will be crossing their fingers that Straily can give them a good six innings of work, or they could be in trouble.