Musgrove working through a learning curve

Musgrove working through a learning curve

HOUSTON -- Joe Musgrove, quite possibly, is throwing too many strikes, believe it or not.

Musgrove used six different pitches en route to losing his eighth decision in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Twins. He was a marksman again in the strike zone, throwing 53 of his 84 pitches for strikes. The problem is that his opponents know his nearly too-precise tendencies, too. So far this month, 130 of his 177 pitches (73 percent) in July went for strikes.

"Being around the strike zone, their entire dugout is coming up to the batter's box wanting to swing, wanting to hit," said manager A.J. Hinch. "They know he's going to be around the zone, he's unlikely to walk them. So he's got to counter that a little better."

Hinch on loss to Twins

"Even if I was in the zone, I wasn't where I was trying to go," Musgrove said after Saturday's loss. "You've got to take that for what it is and try and work around it. You can't give in, you've got to try to find another way to get it done."

Musgrove has an 8.76 ERA in five starts across June and July, and has allowed 36 hits and 24 earned runs in 24 2/3 innings in that span.

"It's a learning curve for him," Hinch said of the 24-year-old righty. "He's got all the pitches and all the things he can do to be successful. It's just getting him through that fifth inning and that sixth inning, getting a little bit deeper into the game. I know his stuff, generally, holds. Then things happen fast for him at the end of his outing.

"I think we have to remember how young he is and how few starts he's gotten in the big leagues. He's got every pitch known to man, if he can use them effectively. He throws a lot of strikes, maybe too many strikes. And the hitters, the third time through, like [they do with] a lot of pitchers, make adjustments to him. So he's got to make adjustments back to stay in games."

Springer, Correa rest: Sunday's series finale against the Twins was a scheduled half-day off for George Springer and a full off-day for shortstop Carlos Correa. Springer hit leadoff as the designated hitter, his second start as DH this season.

"Yeah, it's awesome," said Springer, who is second in the Majors in homers, with 27. "Getting a blow from playing the field."

"Which he's more than earned," added Hinch. "Sometimes I have to force myself to do something like that for George because he's got so much energy and is so fun to [have] on the field. So it's good for him to have at least a partial day off and just focus on hitting."

Springer has played in 85 of the 61-win Astros' 91 games and is the only member of the team with a slugging percentage over .600, at .606. Correa has played in 83 games.

Springer and Correa started Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard before flying to Houston later that night, allotting them off-days on only Wednesday and Thursday prior to Friday's series opener vs. Minnesota.

"These guys need more breaks than they get. This schedule is brutal," Hinch said. "I don't care that we just had the All-Star break. I mean, a lot of guys didn't have that. Guys need some breaks here and there when you can get it. You want your guys at their best. A lot of times, it feels like you can just run them to empty. A scheduled off-day or an off-day on the schedule is supposed to fix everything, and oftentimes it doesn't."

Morton honored: Charlie Morton has been recognized as the Astros' nominee for the Bob Ferrell Act of Valor Award, given annually to a Major Leaguer who actively supports servicemen and -women. Morton hosts veterans from The Wounded Warrior Project at Minute Maid Park during each homestand.

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.