HOUSTON -- While hardly a lockdown unit, the Astros' bullpen has contributed to the net positive from the whole Houston pitching staff this season.
But the arms are getting thin down there right now, as right-hander Matt Albers missed his third consecutive game Thursday with soreness in his throwing shoulder, manager Bo Porter said.
"Albers is one guy that's dealing with some shoulder stiffness," Porter said before the series opener against the A's. "He's been down the last couple days. He's down again today. We'll let the training staff continue to evaluate, and we'll go day to day with his situation."
Though the injury isn't believed to be serious, Porter said the longer Albers is unavailable, the more likely a 15-day disabled list stint could become.
"The longer we go, that risk can increase," Porter said. "This is the third day, so I'm not going to jump the gun yet. We'll see how he responds to treatment and hopefully things will work themselves out."
Albers, 31, declined to speak about the shoulder issue. He has been in the Astros' mix at closer this season, often pitching the eighth inning and leading the team with three holds.
He's also been the most consistent option, period, in the bullpen, with just one earned run on 10 hits, three walks and 10 strikeouts over 10 innings.
Anthony Bass would be the most likely option to assume Albers' role if the veteran doesn't return this weekend.
Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.