Nelson Figueroa's mid-career renaissance is now on it's last legs. The Astros have officially designated the veteran pitcher for assignment.
Maybe the Astros should've seen this divorce coming. The journeyman reliever has never stayed on the same club for more than two years at a time.
The Astros scooped Figeruoa once he was dumped by the Mets and soon thereafter by the Phillies. History would say that picking up a twice-released player would not yield productive results. But Figueroa defied the odds and proved to be a feel-good story for a sunk Astros season.
In 2010, hitters batted .20 points lower against Figueroa than his career averages, and his ERA plummeted to 3.22 despite career averages over 4.5. Figueroa's BABIP and BB/9 shrank while his K/9 skyrocketed, and Figueroa was, for the first time, succeeding in the majors as a starting pitcher. He went 5-3 and was a crucial part of the Astros rotation.
He walked out of this year's Spring Training as the fifth man in the rotation. Really anything but a face-plant would suffice expectations.
But Figueroa face-planted to start the season. Games became quicksand for Nelson Figueroa as he failed to relive last year's success story. He was sent to the bullpen at the end of April; Brad Mills and co. hoped such a move would stop the bleeding. But batters continued teeing off the journeyman pitcher.
In four relief innings, Figueroa failed to show any signs of life. He gave up five runs on eight hits and three walks. He's now given up 28 runs in 29 innings, also giving up an alarming 45 hits and 16 walks in that same span.
It'll be interesting to see if Figueroa accepts his demotions to the minors, and that's assuming no one picks him up. The only glimmer of hope for Figueroa is that the Astros have no one else to turn to. Really, no one. They called me last weekend but I declined. I'd rather write for SB Nation Houston than be a part of the Astros bullpen.