Sometimes, a call-up to the major leagues isn’t based solely on performance.
Sometimes, it’s more about timing and a bit of luck.
Pitcher Dan Straily earned a last-second trip to the big leagues Tuesday to make a start for the parent club Houston Astros partly because he hadn’t thrown for the Fresno Grizzlies since Friday and other pitchers had either just thrown or struggled lately.
So Straily, even pitching on short rest, was deemed the top option — and most readily available — after Astros rookie Lance McCullers lasted just one-third of an inning Monday and was optioned to the minors.
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Straily opened with three shutout innings Tuesday before allowing four runs on six hits and three walks in 42/3 innings and took the loss in a 4-3 defeat at Texas.
But it’s what he had done prior that helped land him on the Astros roster for the second time this season.
“One of the things I’ve learned the past couple of years is you don’t change a thing when you get up there (to the majors),” the 26-year-old Straily said in an interview earlier this season. “You’re there because of how you’ve been pitching and they see the crossover ability that you’re going to be just as successful there as you are here.”
In his previous outing for the Grizzlies on Friday, Straily pitched six innings and gave up three runs on seven hits while striking out six and walking one.
In three July starts for Fresno, Straily was 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA and 22 strikeouts to three walks in 21 innings. Opponents also were hitting just .205 in that stretch.
Straily, who two seasons ago was 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 27 starts over 1521/3 innings with the Oakland A’s, had gotten off to a rocky start and sported a 5.21 ERA during the opening month of April.
But a small mechanic change to his non-throwing front arm based on video from 2013 helped Straily identify part of his problem with his control and drop in velocity.
He also was still trying to build up strength in his right throwing shoulder after spending most of last season pitching through arm fatigue.
“We saw some small changes from his delivery then and now, said ‘Let’s try to go back to your form then’ and Dan took off from there,” Grizzlies pitching coach Ace Adams said. “He’s gotten into a good rhythm.
“Dan’s done a great job figuring his things out and he’s been pitching really well, very consistent.”
It’s unclear how long Straily will remain with the Astros. Straily’s previous stint in the majors lasted nine days.
Left-handed pitcher Brett Oberholtzer also might have been an option for the Astros on Tuesday, except he had just thrown eight innings Sunday while allowing only one run.
“When you get your chance up there,” Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco said, “you’ve got to take advantage of it because you never know how long it’s going to last or when the next opportunity comes.”