James (1-0) picked up the win in Saturday's 7-3 victory over the Red Sox, walking one and striking out two over three scoreless innings of relief. He entered the game in the fifth inning after Corbin Martin put the first two baserunners aboard, and after loading the bases with one out, James fanned Xander Bogaerts and got Rafael Devers to ground out to end the threat. The fireballing right-hander has now reeled off six straight scoreless appearances, posting a 14:4 K:BB in 10 innings over that stretch as he works his way back into more high-leverage work following a rough April.
James (back) struck out one in a perfect ninth inning in relief Saturday in the Astros' 14-2 win over the Angels. James had dealt with some minor discomfort in his previous outing Tuesday in Minnesota, but he progressed enough to make the trip with the Astros to Mexico for the two-game weekend series in Monterrey. The Astros were able to ease James back into their bullpen with a low-leverage appearance in a blowout. With no apparent complications during that outing, James could gradually work his way up the bullpen pecking order.
Manager AJ Hinch said he would try not to use James (back) against the Twins on Wednesday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. James experienced some back discomfort during his scoreless appearance Tuesday, though he was able to play catch with no issues Wednesday and appears to be fine. Still, it sounds like the Astros would like to avoid using the right-hander, if possible.
James struck out three, walked one and hit a batter over two scoreless innings in Tuesday's 9-1 win over the Athletics. James has made headlines for all the wrong reasons, so this low-leverage outing represents a rebound for the 25-year-old. He entered Tuesday having allowed three home runs, seven runs, five hits and five walks over his previous four outings. The right-hander is being challenged to harness his fastball and will continue that process in similar low-risk situations. James has whiffed 14 batters over 10 innings (12.6 K/9).
James allowed one run on two hits and struck out four over two innings in Wednesday's 4-0 loss to the Rangers. James cleaned up the final innings of another listless performance by Houston's offense, which wasted another fine effort by a starter. The young right-hander has made three appearances out of the Astros' bullpen, striking out nine in five innings. Houston's doldrums are not expected to last, so the need for James' length, which has produced a significant strikeout rate, should not be as acute.