Houston Astros: Is Collin McHugh for Andrew Miller smart?


The Houston Astros Could be a Match with Yankees McHugh-Miller Trade

The Houston Astros have been reported to be ‘hell-bent’ on getting a closer, so it is not surprised that writers across America are trying to come up with their own trade ideas. While these normally are considered speculation, the Astros have been reported as checking in on Andrew Miller among others. Joel Sherman of the New York Post is one of these writers, as he looked at the ten starting pitchers who would best fit the New York Yankees.

One of the names pitched on a team that knocked them out of the playoffs, the Houston Astros. Sherman thinks that Collin McHugh would be the third best target for the Yankees if the two teams could find a match. According to Sherman, if the Astros want Miller, the Astros would have to give up Lance McCullers Jr. Everyone in their right mind knows that the Astros would not trade McCullers, would the Yankees take McHugh?

Looking at the potential trade

Sherman suggested that the Astros could trade the under team control McHugh for the most expensive closer who chose the Yankees over the Astros. Just last offseason, Miller told the Astros thank you, but I will not sign with you. Why trade for someone that didn’t want to be here in the first place, would he become a malcontent like Jonathan Papelbon was with the Phillies?

Miller is one of the premiere closers in the game right now, but would trading your number two pitcher for him be very smart? While adding an elite closer would improve the bullpen, but the Astros were extremely lucky with McHugh on the mound as evident by his 19-7 record with a 3.89 ERA. During McHugh’s Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde season, McHugh was dominate at times and very hittable at other times. The adjustment could be explained by this, as a pitcher has to evolve in his second full major league season.

Miller was dominant all season long, taking over the closer’s job from a magnificent Dellin Betances. He had 36 saves in 61 2/3 innings with 100 strikeouts. His ERA (2.04) was a tad bit higher than the previous season (1.35), but it is hard to maintain that type of dominance. Miller finished 53 of the 60 games he pitched in, and the reason he only had 36 saves was because Betances got an occasional save here or there. The Yankees would take a step back in the quality of the bullpen, but would improve the rotation.

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Reasons to make this trade

  • Having a dominant left-handed closer would help Astros keep the close leads in important games.
  • Miller would take over the veteran leadership role from Chad Qualls.
  • If they can re-sign Tony Sipp, the two pitchers would be a great combination late in games.
  • Improve the depth of the bullpen with Luke Gregerson becoming the setup guy where he is most comfortable with.
  • The starting pitching depth on this team is better than the bullpen depth so that they could absorb the loss of McHugh.
  • You don’t have to give up the blue chip prospects that you would in a trade for Aroldis Chapman or Ken Giles.
  • Mark Appel could finally be given his chance.

Reasons to not make this trade

  • McHugh is more valuable with his 3.1 WAR versus Miller’s 2.2 WAR via Fangraphs.
  • Guys like McHugh don’t just fall out of the sky like he did with the Houston Astros.
  • McHugh is a cheap number two pitcher who the Astros could lock up and have a premiere 1-2 punch in the rotation.
  • Could set the team back a year or two as they develop another number two pitcher.

McHugh had an up and down season, with the best illustration of this being the Draft Kings salary versus actual points graph on his Baseball-Reference page. He earned below his salary 19 times last year while finishing at or above 13 times. He wasn’t as consistent in 2015, but he had that something you can’t teach, the team scored some runs in support of him.

Next: Houston Astros: Could David Price be an option?

While this trade could be fair for both sides, I am on the fence as to whether I would make this trade if I were Jeff Luhnow. That’s why they pay him the big money, to make these decisions to do what’s best for the team.