Astros manager Bo Porter talked repeatedly about the need for a strong long reliever and it looks like he’s found one from an unexpected source.
Right-hander Paul Clemens started the year in Oklahoma City and didn’t get called up until injuries forced roster moves. So far Clemens has made the most of his opportunities.
After a debut where he gave up three homers and five runs in four innings, but twice this week he’s come in to eat up innings after a starter failed to get out of the first inning. In both outings, Clemens went at least 3 1/3 innings and gave up no runs.
“Honestly, I’ll take that first outing over these last two. We won that ballgame,” Clemens said. “We were up 16, we won that ballgame and at this level it’s all about winning. No matter if you win by one or 20. I’ll take that first game, we were up 16 and they allowed me to go in there and throw strikes, they hit a couple of solo home runs so be it. We won the ballgame.”
Whenever Clemens has entered a game there’s been an unspoken need for him to eat up innings.
“If you’re a self-aware person you’ve seen two, three, four bullpen guys get burned,” Clemens said. “Obviously they need me to go deep. I’m going to give it all I’ve got and go as long as I can go.”
Clemens is a bundle of nervous energy and a different kind of pitcher. He dislocated a finger trying to field a ground ball in Oakland, holding his hand up so the dugout could see it. Clemens let trainer Nate Lucero pop it back in place and he stayed in the game to get one more out before leaving.
There has been little that has fazed Clemens since his arrival, though the depth of scouting and preparation was a bit of an eye opener for him.
“My first outing after my debut I was talking to some guys after it, they were like ‘believe me they who you were before you stepped on that mound,’” Clemens said. “That level of know-how, pay attention, all of those things it’s a whole different animal up here. You gotta know your hitters, you’ve gotta know your situations and you’ve gotta know what your job is.”