HOUSTON -- The Astros' pitching staff is last in the Major Leagues with a 5.42 team ERA, but manager Bo Porter is hoping Thursday's starting pitcher, Jordan Lyles, who was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City, can provide some answers following his "false start" to the 2013 season.
"We had high hopes going into Spring Training that he was going to be a part of our rotation," Porter said. "Things didn't work out that way in Spring Training. I think that has motivated him to get down to Oklahoma City and take care of the things they need to take care of.
"From a mental standpoint, when guys take one step back, it allows them to take three steps forward."
What are those things?
"Attacking the strike zone, using his secondary pitches," said Porter, who added that he has the utmost confidence that Lyles will, indeed, help shore up the starting rotation. "I think that we're going to see the guy that we all believe is a front-of-the-rotation starter."
Porter said he was particularly interested in Lyles' command of his fastball.
"His secondary pitches are good enough to where he can throw them in any count," Porter said. "It's not just throwing strikes; it's getting ahead with your fastball or putting yourself in position where you can throw your secondary stuff and you can get a swing and miss throwing it out of the zone, because you've established the fact that you're not only going to throw it for strikes, but you can also throw it for balls when you're trying to get [the hitters] to chase."
In Thursday's 7-3 loss, Lyles went five innings, yielding six hits and one walk. He gave up two runs, both earned, and struck out six. He did not figure in the decision.
Astros recall Lyles, Keuchel from Triple-A
HOUSTON -- The Astros called up right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles from Triple-A Oklahoma City to start Thursday's series opener with Detroit. Lefty Dallas Keuchel was also called up.
The two combined for 9 1/3 innings in their first day on the job. In Thursday's 7-3 loss to the Tigers, Lyles worked the first five innings, giving up six hits and two runs while striking out six and issuing just one walk.
Keuchel was Houston's sixth reliever on Thursday. He went 4 1/3 innings and yielded seven hits and four runs. Keuchel walked four, two intentionally, and struck out four. He was charged with the loss.
To make room, the Astros sent down right-handed pitchers Brad Peacock and Rhiner Cruz.
Astros manager Bo Porter said the moves give him more options in the bullpen.
"When you have Keuchel and [Travis] Blackley and [Paul] Clemens and [José] Cisnero, you have guys that you can use in a multitude of ways," Porter said. "I think it just gives us more options.
"And it also gives Rhiner an opportunity to go to Triple-A and pitch in some high stress, back-end of the game situations. We believe that in the future, he's going to be one of those guys that's going to be back in the rotation."
But with Hector Ambriz pretty much solidifying his role as the setup guy and Jose Veras, the closer, Porter said he sees it as a valuable time to get Cruz experience closing out some games.
Porter added that he anticipates a quick return.
"It's going to come and it's going to come fast because he has the stuff to do it," Porter said. "It's just looking at the dynamic of our roster and how it's shaped up and the need to have those multiple-inning guys down in the bullpen. We just saw it as the right thing to do at this time."
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.