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Astros optimistic about Lyles' future

The SportsXchange

Houston Astros right-hander Jordan Lyles has another shot to stick in the majors.

With righty Brad Peacock (1-3, 9.41 ERA) moved out of the rotation Monday and optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City three days later, the club had Lyles start the series opener Thursday against the Detroit Tigers at Minute Maid Park.

Lyles threw five solid innings, allowing two runs while striking out six in 79 pitches (54 strikes). He wasn't involved in the decision as the Astros lost 7-3 in 14 innings.

The Astros called up Lyles in the hope he'll remain in the rotation the remainder of this season. The organization believes Lyles made key improvements during his last two starts at Oklahoma City. He's attacking more with his fastball early in counts, is throwing on a downward plane, has shown better breaking pitches and has displayed improved pregame preparation.

"This guy has all the skillsets to be a front-of-the-rotation starter in this league," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "We're hoping that is the case. We're hoping the step he took back this spring has added motivation to never take it for granted and give everything that he has to not only be in the big leagues but to be an elite pitcher in the big leagues."

Lyles was initially slotted as the Astros' No. 3 starter before spring training started and was a near-lock for the rotation. However, struggled mightily during exhibition play, posting a 17.74 ERA and a 0-3 record. Lyles, 22, allowed 24 runs (23 earned) and 36 hits in just 11 2/3 innings. His command and focus were off throughout spring training, and he was optioned to Oklahoma City on March 20.

"This is a guy that obviously we expected to be a part of the rotation. It didn't fare too well this spring," Porter said. "Sometimes guys taking a step back actually allows them to take three steps forward, and we're hoping that is the case with Jordan."
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