The Astros designated the struggling Figueroa for assignment after Monday night's 6-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. He had allowed one run in two innings in the game, giving him an 8.69 ERA on the season in eight games. In his place, they recalled left-hander Sergio Escalona from Class AAA Oklahoma City, giving the Astros two lefties in the bullpen for the first time this season.
Figueroa, who had been given a guaranteed contract for the first time in his professional career, was 0-3, having allowed 45 hits and 16 walks in 29 innings. It's a major departure from his 2010 campaign, when he was 5-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 18 appearances after the Astros claimed him off waivers from the Phillies.
"He was able to really stabilize the rotation for us last year late in the year and throw the ball extremely well," manager Brad Mills said. "Hopefully there's some way he can get it back. It seemed like things were off the plate this year, where last year they were just on the plate."
Escalona, 26, has three saves and a 3.38 ERA in 16 innings with the Astros' top farm club after he was acquired from the Phillies in the offseason. He'll join fellow lefty Fernando Abad, who is struggling with a 7.50 ERA, in a bullpen desperate for help.
"The benefit of having two lefties in the 'pen is going to be important," Mills said. "We won't need our left-handers to go deep -- go full innings, or two innings. Having two lefties, we're going to be able to use one early and one late. With Sergio throwing the ball so well right now, that will be big."
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