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Duckworth Sent Down

Brandon Duckworth impresses
the ladies, in better times

After Thursday's game, the Astros sent reliever Brandon Duckworth to AAA Round Rock. Previously, the buzz had been that because Duckworth was out of options, and therefore would have to clear waivers before any outright, the Astros brass were reluctant to make the move and risk losing him to the waiver wire.

Perhaps his last outing, Sunday vs. Atlanta, finally swayed Purpura and Co. Duckworth pitched 2 innings in Sunday's whitewash loss to the Braves, giving up 5 runs on 5 hits with two homers.

Of course, maybe that performance is why he was able to clear waivers, as well.

Or maybe the reason is that his ERA had been 11.40. Regardless, at a certain point, the determining factor in a player's ultimate utility to an organization becomes what the pitcher actually DOES rather than the strength of his arm, or his semi-mythical "stuff." Duckworth can work on the resume at the AAA affiliate, but I'm guessing the next callup won't be handed out so easily.

Taking Duckworth's place on the roster beginning Friday will be righthander Mike Burns. At the time of his callup, Burns was basically the best closer in the Pacific Coast League. He led the league with 10 saves, and carried a 0.48 ERA to go with his 21 strikeouts in 18-2/3 innings.

It is to be hoped that Burns can provide a jolt for a relief crew that has headed south recently. Russ Springer, Chad Qualls, Chad Harville, and Brad Lidge have all been ineffective lately, plus I still don't trust John Franco.

Hopefully, Burns will join Dan Wheeler on the short list of Astro relievers pitching worth a shit.