21 April, 2006

MLB debut - Taylor Buchholz

Baby faced Houston hurler Taylor Buchholz debuted 7 April in relief of Brandon Backe as the Astros downed the Washington Nationals 6-1 at Corporate Larceny Field.

Pennsylvania native Buchholz came over the 'Stros in the Billy Wagner deal back in November 2003. Health problems retarded his progress when he arrived from the Phillies, but Houston were still high on his stuff and particularly his hard breaking curve ball. Buchholz's curve complements a 91-95mph heater though indications that injuries may have taken away some of the zip. Control, once a trademark, has gone south. He's also hittable and prone to the long ball allowing 1.7 per 9 innings at Round Rock in 2005.

Houston hopes his injury woes are behind him and he's been able to latch on with the big club this season earning the fifth spot in the starting rotation. (I wonder if he's keeping the Rocket's seat warm.)

Against the banjo hitting Nats, Buchholz came out of the bullpen as the schedule meant his first start wasn't due until at least 11 April. He worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings, yielding just one hit - a 9th inning single to Marlon Byrd. He struck out one, throwing 35 pitches, 25 for strikes.

With Backe going on the DL shortly after this game, the load on Buchholz's young shoulders looks set to increase.

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