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Houston Astros: Evaluating the Underrated Collin McHugh for Royals Fans

joshcameron
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Collin McHugh is one of baseball’s best untold stories.  Selected in the 18th round of the 2008 draft by the New York Mets, McHugh’s path to the majors has been a unique one. He saw early success in the Mets’ minor league system. Before his promotion to the majors in 2012, he posted a 2.91 ERA in Triple-A.  McHugh made his MLB debut on August 23, 2012. He went seven innings, gave up only two hits, allowed one walk, struck out 9, and did not allow any earned runs. Throughout the remainder of the season, McHugh saw limited action. He finished the season with just 21 innings pitched and posted a 7.29 ERA.

McHugh’s 2013 campaign did not show much promise. He was traded midway through the season to the Colorado Rockies but was designated for assignment (essentially released) at the end of that season.   Over the course of his 2013 season, he gave up 29 runs in just 26 innings.  At 27 years old, McHugh was on the waivers with his MLB career possibly cut short. Two days after the Rockies designated McHugh for assignment, the Houston Astros claimed him off the waivers. This move very well could go down as Jeff Luhnow’s most impactful pickup of his executive career. It could also be the very move that helps lead the Astros to postseason success.

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In McHugh’s 2014 season, he posted career marks in multiple stats. He was the first Astros pitcher to win more than ten games (11-9) since Lucas Harrell in 2012. He posted a career-best 2.73 ERA in 154 innings pitched. He led the Astros in WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) at 1.02 and posted a career high 157 strikeouts.

McHugh’s 2015 3.89 ERA does not do justice to his actual impact. He was second in the American League in wins with 19 only behind teammate Dallas Keuchel. Pre All-Star break, McHugh had a 4.50 ERA and had given up 14 home runs. He only gave up 13 the entire previous 2014 season.  Some were wondering if McHugh’s 2014 success had just been a fluke.  However, McHugh’s run support allowed him to go 9-5 up to that point. Post All-Star break, McHugh turned it back around to his 2014 success.  He went 10-2 with a 3.11 ERA. He posted a 1.89 ERA in August going six consecutive starts giving up 2 or fewer runs.  In the Astros rough September, McHugh would go 4-0.

Yesterday, we looked at how Dallas Keuchel could have a Madison Bumgarner like effect on the Astros this postseason. The reality is that McHugh’s impact is just significant as Keuchel’s.  The Astros path to the World Series features the best offenses in baseball: Royals, Blue Jays, and Rangers. Dominant performances from Keuchel and McHugh moving forward could bring Houston a World Series berth and a possible championship.

After making just over $500k this past season, McHugh will be on a minimum contract again next season before he is eligible for arbitration next offseason through 2020.  However, the Astros could possibly look to lock up their #2 starter early as they dive into their fresh success.  McHugh’s Twitter bio is, “Professional baseball player & amateur writer.” He has his own blog called, “A Day Older, A Day Wiser,” in which he chronicles his life and baseball journey.

Taking the mound tonight versus a very good Kansas City baseball team, McHugh can give the Astros a win to start the series. Via Brook’s Baseball, McHugh primarily throws four pitches.  A four-seam fastball (91mph), cutter (88mph), slider (88mph) and curve (74mph). He occasionally throws a changeup (83mph) and sinker (90mph). He has the arsenal to get it done versus a strong Royals lineup. Astros fans are thankful we landed him at Christmas in 2013 and look forward to tonight as the team continues their postseason path.

Next: Ultimate ALDS Game 1 Preview:

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