The Seattle Mariners plan to activate left-hander James Paxton off the 10-day disabled list to start their next game.
Of course, that was also true last week.
The 29-year-old, who has been on the DL with stiffness in his lower back since July 13, is scheduled to start Monday night when the Mariners host the American League West-leading Houston Astros in the opener of a three-game series at Safeco Field.
He was set to do the same last Tuesday against San Francisco, but his back stiffened up and the Mariners kept him sidelined. He threw just two-thirds of an inning in his last outing July 7 in Colorado.
"As long as I come in good tomorrow, I'll be ready to go," Paxton said after his latest bullpen session Friday in Anaheim. "I threw everything. Felt really good. Nothing is holding me back. As long as I come in tomorrow and feel like I do today, I'll be ready to go."
Paxton (8-4, 3.70 ERA) said the warm Southern California weather helped him get stretched out.
"I think the heat is good for me right now and we've got the same heat back in Seattle, so that's good news," he said. "The last few days I'd been waking up with a little back stiffness, but today I felt really good. For a while there I felt stiff and had to stretch it out a lot. But now I'm not even thinking about it."
At least Paxton, who is 5-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 10 career starts against the Astros, including 2-0 this season, won't have to face reigning AL MVP Jose Altuve, who was placed on the 10-day DL Sunday because of right knee discomfort.
The second baseman is on the DL for the first time in his eight-year career.
"Basic things, like walking and to go down the stairs, it feels good," Altuve told MLB.com. "I haven't done anything more than that. Like I said, the doctor came, checked on me, and he said it was better to get it done.
"If they think it's better to go on the DL for the team and for me, in order to come back healthy and strong, we've got to go there and do it."
With shortstop Carlos Correa (lower back) already on the DL, the Astros will begin an eight-game trip without either of their All-Star middle infielders.
"It's my first time in my career, so I'm not really happy about it," Altuve said of being sidelined.
The Astros will start right-hander Gerrit Cole (10-2, 2.54 ERA). Cole is 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA in two career starts against the Mariners, including a 7-1 victory April 18 in Houston in which he allowed one unearned run on five hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out five.
The Astros have lost four consecutive games, allowing the Mariners to stay in the AL West race. They were outscored 22-8 during a three-game sweep by the Texas Rangers and head to Seattle following a 4-3 loss on Sunday.
Seattle broke out of an offensive slump with a seven-run first inning Sunday in an 8-5 victory against the Los Angeles Angels.