Needing to help him get his control and command right, the Astros optioned relief pitcher Fernando Abad to Triple-A Oklahoma City one day after his latest poor outing and fourth loss of the season. To fill Abad's spot on the roster, they purchased the contract of Oklahoma City's Fernando Rodriguez.
Abad has allowed eight walks in 13 1/3 innings after allowing just five in 19 innings last season. His ERA is up from 2.84 to 7.43 as another consequence of getting behind hitters on a consistent basis.
"It's command and control and throwing more strikes and doing more of what he did last year," said assistant general manager David Gottfried, who is on the Astros' current road trip in GM Ed Wade's place. "This is very much about getting him back in the right direction. We're a better team when he's pitching like he did last year."
The move leaves Sergio Escalona as the lone lefty in the Astros' bullpen. He has seen little action, pitching just twice (one inning total) since his call-up.
As for Abad, he got his career off to a promising start last year and was used in increasingly important situations as the season went on. But the Astros have been baffled by his inability to throw strikes and hope to get that back with the stay in Oklahoma City.
"We've gone over mechanical issues, we've gone over 'does he need more time out there?' " manager Brad Mills said. "Here's a guy who's been a strike thrower, really, his entire life, and then all of a sudden he comes out (Monday) night during a big game and throws four straight balls."
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