The Houston Astros have finally made the move many fans have been waiting for: NiTro is here.
— Jayne Hansen (@JayneWTHB) September 2, 2014
Right-hander Nick Tropeano, who had a terrific season with the Oklahoma City RedHawks, finally got called up to the big leagues and has been added to the Astros 40-man roster. Tropeano is Astros’ 13th best prospect, according to MLB.com, and has been exceptional since coming back from forearm soreness earlier this year. He was 9-5 with a 3.03 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 20 starts (124.2 innings) at Triple A this season. He had 120 strikeouts and 33 walks while surrendering just 90 hits and 11 homers. For a breakdown of the Astros call-ups, read Kennon’s piece from earlier today.
Tropeano was drafted by the Astros in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Draft. He’s got a terrific fastball and has shown an ability to mix in a nice change-up and slider as well (he held opponents to .200 hitting with a 3.64 K/BB ratio). The 24-year old will most likely start out of the bullpen for Houston, but is projected to be a starter for the Astros in the future.
Nick Tropeano finished as the PCL’s leader in ERA, WHIP, and opponent average. First RedHawk to ever win PCL ERA title. #Astros
— Alex Freedman (@azfreedman) September 2, 2014
So, how long should it be before this highly-rated prospect gets his first start this season?
With Brad Peacock pitching much better recently, it would be tough to immediately remove the veteran from the rotation. The 26-year-old is 3-8 with a 5.13 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 99 strikeouts, and 60 walks in 20 starts this season. In his last start, a loss to Oakland, Peacock went 5.1 innings and gave up one run while striking out six and walking five.
However, overall this season, I think Peacock has been inconsistent for the Astros and isn’t considered to be a part of their long-term plan. He will face C.J. Wilson (10-8, 4.46 ERA) and the Los Angeles Angels (83-53) tonight at Minute Maid Park in the first of a two-game series. If he struggles, it could be one of the last starts for Peacock in an Astros uniform. It’s clear the team will use the rest of this season to prepare for next year and Peacock will most likely not be an Astro by then.
Meanwhile, NiTro could be a huge part of the Astros long-term plan and a member of the rotation next year, so eventually the team has to give him a chance to prove himself. They obviously aren’t going to replace Keuchel, Obie, McHugh, or Feldman in the rotation at this point, so I think it has to be Peacock who goes.
The 2014 season has been another difficult one for Astros fans. Besides a few breakout performances from Chris Carter, Dallas, Keuchel, Jose Altuve, and George Springer, the team has mostly dealt with off-field issues and, of course, the firing of manager Bo Porter yesterday. NiTro could bring some optimism to the organization if he is able to come in and pitch well right away.
Right now, Jeff Luhnow needs something (anything) to get fans excited about the future again. With just 24 games left this season, I think Nick Tropeano should get his chance to start soon.
Lineup for the Astros (59-79) tonight:
LF- Robbie Grossman
2B- Jose Altuve
CF- Dexter Fowler
DH- Chris Carter
C- Jason Castro
3B- Matt Dominguez
RF- Jake Marisnick
1B- Jon Singleton
SS- Gregorio Petit
P- Brad Peacock