HOUSTON -- The Astros made an expected roster move following Saturday's loss to the Reds when they called up right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles to start Sunday's series finale at Minute Maid Park, but the corresponding move was surprising.
The club announced it was optioning infielder Matt Downs to Triple-A Oklahoma City to make room for Lyles. Downs, who had a pair of hits Saturday, was hitting .169 in 71 at-bats with three homers and six RBIs and had been getting spotty starts, but his versatility and power stroke made him a valuable asset.
Downs spent all of last season on the Major League roster and had a bang-up season, hitting .276 with 10 homers and 41 RBIs in only 199 at-bats. He was also baseball's best pinch-hitter a year ago, leading the Majors in pinch-hits (15) and pinch-hit on-base percentage (.462).
Lyles has bounced between Houston and Oklahoma City this year, going 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in four starts with the Astros. The Astros have used their off days to try to spread their starts between four pitchers, calling up Lyles when a fifth starter is needed.