The Houston Astros, in addition to their bullpen needs, could be dramatically helped by improving the back end of their rotation. Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh both emerged as potential building blocks, while Scott Feldman proved to be worth the contract he was signed to prior to the 2014 season. Yet, the back of the rotation still appears to be a work in progress.
Even if Jarred Cosart wins a spot in the rotation during Spring Training, the duo of Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock are not exactly a duo that would inspire confidence. Mark Appel is still likely a year away, at least, to being able to contribute. The Astros may well need another option for the back of the rotation.
One possible candidate may be Chad Billingsley. The oft injured starter, who has missed the vast majority of the past two seasons with injuries, may be a perfect buy low candidate for the Astros. For a team with budgetary concerns such as the Astros, Billingsley could be a perfect low risk, high reward signing.
Prior to being injured, Billingsley had begun to put together the start of a solid career. In his first six full seasons in the majors, Billingsley had posted a 73-57 record with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.335 WHiP, striking out 972 batters in 1073.1 innings. While it seemed unlikely that Billingsley would ever develop into a top of the rotation starter, he seemed well on his way to becoming a solid middle of the rotation pitcher, able to take his turn every fifth day while giving his team a quality start most times out.
Now, having pitched a grand total of twelve innings since the 2012 season concluded, Chad Billingsley is certainly an injury risk. He had Tommy John surgery in 2013, and during his attempt to come back last season, suffered a partial tear in his flexor tendon in June. Yet, for a pitcher who may be able to be signed on a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training, Billingsley is the type of lottery ticket that is worth taking a look at.
Chad Billingsley could well find his time as a viable major league pitcher is over. However, for a potential low risk, high reward type of player, he would certainly be worth a look for the Astros.