The combination of a curtailed spring and inconsistent timing have contributed to Astros reliever Josh James' subpar start to his anticipated rookie season.

In six appearances out of the bullpen, James has a 7.88 ERA. The righthander has yielded six earned runs during his last two innings.

Pitching against the Yankees on Wednesday with a five-run lead, James could not record an out in the seventh inning, allowing all four hitters he faced to reach base. He's allowed three home runs in eight innings, matching his total from all last season.

"He hasn't been his best in the strike zone and then when he has, his execution hasn't been what we've seen in the past," manager A.J. Hinch said. "You get reminded in this league that if you don't execute, don't have a clean delivery that it can hurt you. If you put some extra baserunners on bases against the wrong type hitters, they can do some damage."

James' six walks are one less than he allowed during 23 major league innings last season. His four-seam fastball is not registering swings and misses while timing issues have affected the execution of his slider.