ANAHEIM -- Right-hander Lucas Harrell, who was the Astros' best pitcher a year ago, appears to be settling into his long-relief role. Harrell pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings Thursday in Oakland and picked up in the win in relief with a scoreless inning Wednesday.
"It's something I needed," Harrell said. "I've been really struggling, I've been missing over the plate a lot with some pitches, and just to get back to what I was doing last year and pitching inside more and working in my other pitches when I need it. I kind of got in a rhythm the other day, and I felt like I was throwing the ball better than I had been in the past month. It was definitely good for me."
Harrell hasn't been a regular fixture in the rotation since July 5 in Arlington, when he allowed seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. He made 20 starts for the Astros this year, allowing two or fewer runs 11 times.
"Little by little, I'm getting more used to [pitching out of the bullpen]," Harrell said. "It's one of those things I'm just trying to do what they've asked of me in the role they put me in. I'm getting used to trying help the team out to gap the innings between the starters and the back end [of the bullpen] and hopefully help us win games."
Harrell would like to return to the rotation at some point, but the Astros have been using a six-man rotation for the past two weeks and aren't in need of a starter. Astros starters have posted a 3.65 ERA in the team's 23 games prior to Friday's start by Brad Peacock.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.