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Another New Astros Pitcher is Injured, & The Astros Make a Trade


The news is a few days old, but still bears mentioning. Heading into the spring John Ely was an outside contender for the starting rotation, but more likely for the bullpen. He ultimately ending up getting sent down to AAA, but now will be out for the next 12-18 months with Tommy John surgery.

John Ely (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

Ely had success last season in AAA with the Dodgers with a 3.20 ERA over 168.2 innings. However that success never carried over into his time with the Dodgers and that is why, to them, he was expendable. His versatility between the bullpen and rotation made him an attractive option to the Astros in the offseason.

Finding a long man out of the bullpen was a priority for Jeff Luhnow and Bo Porter coming into the season, and they have not had much success. In ten innings Ely had a 9.90 ERA this spring and was ultimately sent down to the minors pretty quickly. He pitched one game in AAA in the regular season going four scoreless innings and recording the save.

The initial long man to start the season, Alex White, did not even make it opening day.  White was another offseason acquisition (from the Rockies for Wilton Lopez), and after a sub par spring it was determined that he needed Tommy John surgery.

Not too long after that the Astros acquired Travis Blackley from Oakland to fill the long relief role. However, he also promptly found himself on the disabled list. And now we have the news that Ely will be undergoing surgery.

At the time all three trades seemed to be minor moves, but regardless the Astros still traded three healthy players. Granted Wilton Lopez is not exactly lighting it up (10.13 ERA) in Coors Field, but had he not been traded, Lopez would likely be at least the 8th inning guy if not the closer.

Jake Goebbert was just a depth level minor leaguer, but then again so was Jeff Bagwell over 20 years ago. By no means am I suggesting that this was a bad trade or that Goebbert will ever start in the major leagues let alone come close to Bagwell in career accomplishments, but you truly never know.

I am not trying to spread some crazy rumors here or knock the Astros front office and medical staff for not doing their due diligence  but this at a minimum causes me to stop and scratch my head. At the very least, you have to be concerned about these injuries to newly acquired pitchers.

And for that reason the Astros made the trade today to acquire Eric Berger from the Indians for minor league catcher Chris Wallace. The Astros have enough minor league depth so losing Wallace should not be of concern, and Berger will provide some depth to make up for the injured pitchers.  Berger is really nothing more than an innings eater, but it is a role the Astros need to fill.  Now only if they can secure the 8th and 9th innings of games.