With a crucial series in Anaheim looming, the Athletics will recall Drew Pomeranz to start Wednesday against the Astros in the finale of a three-game set at Minute Maid Park.
Why go to a sixth starter now? It's so Oakland can throw its top four starters -- Sonny Gray, Jon Lester, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija -- in a four-game set against the Angels this weekend. The clubs entered Tuesday tied atop the AL West standings.
Pomeranz will make his first start in the Majors since June 16, when he broke his right hand. The Athletics could have used righty Jesse Chavez in this spot, but he pitched in long relief Sunday, so Pomeranz became an obvious candidate. Brad Peacock will get the ball for Houston.
Pomeranz has been with Triple-A Sacramento for the last month and a half, posting a 3.69 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and .260 batting average against over eight starts. In 17 appearances (eight starts) with the big league club, the 25-year-old lefty has a 2.91 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.
Pomeranz's start Wednesday could dictate where he pitches next, as well. Either he or Jason Hammel, who pitched Tuesday, will stay in the rotation as the team's fifth starter. Hammel allowed just three hits and one run over seven innings in a 4-2 loss to Houston.
"We'll take it day to day on this one, see how [Pomeranz] pitches tomorrow and then we'll make our decision accordingly," manager Bob Melvin said.
Peacock pitched one of his best games in weeks on Friday in Cleveland when he held the Indians to one run and two hits in five innings. He had to leave the game prematurely because he had discomfort in his forearm, but he threw off flat ground between starts and said he's ready to go.
"I don't know what happened, but it was hurting," he said. "Now there's no pain. Kind of weird, but I'm doing good. That's all that matters."
Prior to Friday, Peacock had struggled. He was 0-2 with a 10.50 ERA in his four previous starts, allowing 28 hits in 18 innings.
Peacock credits Astros bullpen assistant Javier Bracamonte with helping to get his season on track by noticing he was tipping his pitches.
"I thanked him for helping me out," Peacock said. "He's been watching me throw for the last two years, and he's seen me a lot. He knows what he's doing."
Athletics: Lowrie, Punto could play rehab games soon
Shortstop Jed Lowrie is nearing a return to the club after playing catch Tuesday. He could begin a rehab assignment this weekend and be activated sometime next week.
Lowrie last played on Aug. 13 and has been recovering from a fractured right index finger.
"Hopefully, if that goes well, then maybe we speed things up with him," Melvin said. "He's been doing everything he can to stay game-ready with taking ground balls. I know he's been doing some one-arm swinging in the cages. So today's a big day in how fast we move forward with him."
Infielder Nick Punto, meanwhile, said he's "90 percent" recovered from a right hamstring strain that has kept him out for almost all of August. He is also close to playing rehab games.
"Everything's going well," Punto said Tuesday. "The running is that final step. Being able to go 100 percent, that's the key. I feel like I'm pretty close, maybe 90 percent. We're trying to take it day to day, not look too far ahead, but I do feel like I'm getting close."
Astros: Qualls will likely stay in Houston despite being claimed by Detroit
The Tigers have claimed closer Chad Qualls on revocable waivers, but Houston's right-hander said that he would like to remain with the Astros. Detroit has until Wednesday to work out a deal for Qualls.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who played with Qualls, also hinted Tuesday that a deal wasn't likely to happen.
"I could have signed there in the offseason and obviously they tried to trade for me at the Deadline, and with me being put on waivers, why wouldn't they take another chance now?" Qualls said. "Yet again, nothing's changed. I'm going to go to work as usual and do my thing."
Qualls, 36, has a year left on his contract and a team option for 2016. He's been a big part of the Astros bullpen, converting 15 of 18 saves. He has a 3.00 ERA and 7.8 K/BB ratio in 45 innings.
• Twenty-four of Oakland's 31 remaining games are against AL West opponents. After a four-game set against the Angels this weekend, the A's will host the Mariners for three games.
• Astros outfielder George Springer (quad strain) took batting practice on the field Tuesday. But manager Bo Porter said Springer, outfielder Alex Presley and lefty Darin Downs -- both dealing with strained obliques -- won't be activated until rosters expand Monday, at the earliest.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.