I’ve been keeping the Star Performer Award in virtual storage through the first three weeks of the 2014 season. Why? Because no Astros player had been able to produce anything resembling an outstanding week. But that all changed this past week as the team put together its first winning week, going 4-3 against division rivals Seattle and Oakland.
Several worthy candidates emerged for the coveted hardware this week. Chris Carter‘s bat finally awoke from a lengthy slumber. Jose Altuve, Matt Dominguez, Dexter Fowler, and Dallas Keuchel all put together seven days of outstanding play. It was nice to see all of those guys get it going this week, but another Astros’ performance was far and away the best.
Collin McHugh was an easy choice as this year’s first recipient of the Star Performer of the Week Award.
The 26-year old righty was called up from AAA when #1 starter Scott Feldman was forced to the disabled list at the beginning of the week. McHugh, who had been working every four days as one of OKC’s tandem starters, made his Astros debut Tuesday. Filling in for the injured Feldman, the newest member of the rotation did not disappoint.
Fanning 12 Seattle Mariners in 6 & 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, McHugh picked up his first win as a big leaguer. But Collin was just getting started. In his second start, which came yesterday against Oakland, McHugh turned in the year’s best performance by an Astros starter.
McHugh took a 1-hit shutout into the ninth inning before fatigue set in and forced him from the game after 114 pitches. His final line: 8 & 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, & 7 Ks.
Raul Valdes came in from the bullpen to get the final out, securing a 5-2 win for McHugh and the Astros. Now 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA and 0.55 WHIP, McHugh is the most pleasant surprise in the city.
No one could be expected to pitch this well every time out, but McHugh’s early season performance begs the question: Can the man who was claimed off waivers from Colorado continue to be effective and become a fixture in the Astros rotation?
It looks like this pitching thing might work out pretty nicely for Mr. McHugh. But, if for some reason it doesn’t, the seasoned blogger is always welcome to join the staff here at Climbing Tal’s Hill.