CINCINNATI -- Astros right-hander Jordan Lyles arrived at Great American Ball Park on Saturday morning with what he believes is an improved curveball, but without his cleats and glove. "I left my baseball bag in Oklahoma City," Lyles said. "I'm scrounging around for stuff. I'll just borrow some cleats and a glove and I'll be alright."
Lyles is expected to be recalled from Triple-A to start Sunday's game against the Reds. He went 4-0 with a 3.46 ERA in four starts at Oklahoma City, striking out 24 batters in 26 innings, with only four walks. He's currently tied for the Pacific Coast League lead in wins.
"Everything's going well. They have a good lineup down there ... and my job is just to get them back into the dugout as quickly as I can," Lyles said. "We know they're going to put up some runs."
The Astros will make a corresponding roster move prior to Sunday's game.
Despite the 24 strikeouts, Lyles doesn't consider himself to be a strikeout pitcher. Control has been the key for him, with two of Lyles' four walks coming in his last outing. "Control's been pretty good," he said.
Lyles went 2-8 with a 5.36 ERA in 20 appearances for Houston last year. The missing piece for Lyles? Command of his curveball.
"In Spring Training, that's the pitch I wanted to work on, and I'm definitely doing a good job throwing it as much as I can," he said. "In my last four starts, it's been coming along pretty nice. It's definitely made strides."
Lyles has worked closely with Triple-A pitching coach Burt Hooton. And the results are apparent in Lyle's statistics.
"My velocity's been up a little bit since I've been down, and the curveball's made strides," Lyles said. "I think that was the pitch that was holding me back last year. I didn't really have good command of it or good trust in it. Now I do."