HOUSTON -- Even with two days off in a four-day span this week, Astros manager Bo Porter said he plans to keep his starting rotation in line without skipping starts. Porter said the extra days of rest would be beneficial to his young staff.
Collin McHugh, who made his second start of the season Sunday, is likely to leave the rotation when Scott Feldman is activated from the disabled list. He's eligible to come off Saturday, but if the rotation stays in turn, Feldman would pitch next Sunday against Seattle.
Last year, the Astros shut down starter Jarred Cosart late in the season after he had thrown 153 innings (60 with the Astros, 93 at Triple-A), which was a career high. Brett Oberholtzer also threw a combined 153 innings last year, including 71 2/3 in Houston.
Porter said it's too early in the season to be monitoring innings counts. Dallas Keuchel entered Sunday with a team-high 30 1/3 innings, which ranked only 23rd in the American League. Keuchel and Lucas Harrell tied for the team lead in innings pitched last year at 153 2/3.
"I don't think we're concerned with it, not at this stage of the year," he said. "We'll go the rest of the year and see how the innings pile up and how the leverage of the innings are, and you try to make a decision at that time."
Porter not a fan of headfirst slides
HOUSTON -- With high-energy Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a sprained left thumb, manager Bo Porter -- who worked with Harper while a third-base coach with the Nationals for two years -- expressed concern over the danger of sliding headfirst into the bases.
Astros rookie right fielder George Springer, who like Harper plays with ultra aggressiveness, has slid headfirst at least a couple of times since he was called up, including once into home plate. Harper hurt the thumb Friday against the Padres when he slid headfirst following a three-run triple and jammed the finger into the base.
Porter said he's told his players he prefers them sliding with their feet first.
"I don't like headfirst slides," said Porter, who still communicates with Harper via text messages. "It just exposes too much of your body, and you can get finger and hands [hurt]. I really don't like headfirst slides. Players, for whatever reason, guys that like to slide headfirst, it's more of a knee-jerk thing as far as their sliding technique. It's something I really don't like, especially when you talk about first base and home plate and the risk of injuries that could happen."
Porter admitted that when he was a player he would try not to slide headfirst, but it's instinctual.
"I think sometimes with guys, it's just a reaction," he said. "You may even want to slide feet first and the ball could take the person one way or another, and before you know it your instincts take over."
The Astros used to have a rule in the Minor Leagues that prohibited players from sliding headfirst. Players who did so were immediately taken out of the game if they did. Earlier this year, Angels slugger Josh Hamilton tore a ligament in his left thumb after sliding headfirst into first base and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. Harper will be sidelined when the Nats visit Minute Maid Park on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Astros sticking with platoons despite hot streaks
HOUSTON -- Jason Castro was behind the plate when Collin McHugh struck out 12 batters in his Astros debut last week, but Carlos Corporan started at catcher Sunday when McHugh pitched. Red-hot outfielder Alex Presley was on the bench to start Sunday despite a seven-game hitting streak.
As far as manager Bo Porter is concerned, filling out a lineup card that gives him the best matchups against opposing pitchers trumps anything else at this point, including riding the hot hand.
"You get away from small samples and you allow itself to play out and allow both guys to give you enough information to make that decision," Porter said.
Presley, who was hitting .455 during his seven-game streak, is a left-handed hitter who has been starting in left field against right-handers. With lefty Tommy Milone on the mound Sunday for the A's, L.J. Hoes got the start in left field.
Meanwhile, Castro, who also hits left-handed, was out of the lineup in favor of the switch-hitting Corporan. It's fair to point out that Castro had caught seven games in a row and 10 of the last 11 for the Astros, who are off on Monday.
"Had a righty been on the mound today [for Oakland], Castro would have played and he would have gotten just one off-day," Porter said. "Looking at the workload and number of innings in which he's caught consecutive, I felt it was a good time to take advantage and get his legs underneath him and take two days off."