Josh Fields is Nearing a Return to the Astros

Houston Astros 29-year-old right-handed reliever Josh Fields (groin) appears ready to return from his rehab assignment at Triple-A Fresno. Monday night in Las Vegas, Fields made his fifth appearance with the Grizzlies.

I watched Fields pitch Monday, and to me he looked like he was ready to return to Houston. He pitched two complete scoreless innings, the first time he had been extended past one inning on this rehab assignment. He threw 36 pitches, 21 of them for strikes, as he worked around a base hit and two walks to keep the Las Vegas 51’s off the scoreboard.

Last year, in his second Major League season, the former 2008 first-round pick by Seattle appeared in 54 games and posted a record of 4-6 and a 4.45 ERA, with 70 strikeouts in only 54.2 innings pitched. He led the Astros bullpen in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings (11.52). According to Fangraphs.com, Fields ranked eighth among American relievers in wins above replacement (1.5), the highest WAR by an Astros reliever since RHP Dan Wheeler posted the same mark in 2006.

The Astros selected Fields as the first overall pick in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 draft in 2012 and he has become one of the best Rule 5 draft picks in history.

Fields was placed on the 15-day DL on April 1 and began his rehab assignment on April 11. A Major League pitcher on the 15-day DL can be assigned to a minor league team for up to a maximum of 30 days for rehab.

There has been nothing out of the Houston Astros organization to suggest a timetable for Fields return, but he could and should return to Houston by the end of this week.

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