Houston Astros: Talking Stros About Signing A Starter NOW!

Jul 23, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 23, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Houston Astros need to get their free agent starting pitcher soon

The Houston Astros have been looking at finding a fifth starter for the rotation all offseason if they are going to sign a pitcher, now is the time to strike. I know Astros fans are tired of the talk of adding a pitcher with little action, but let’s keep in mind that adding a veteran starting pitcher to be the fifth starter would be a good addition to this rotation. Depending on who the Astros could sign soon, this will further strengthen what is already a great rotation, which could lead the Astros past the Royals, this time, to get to the World Series.

There are still a few targets left that the Astros are interested in. According to Nick Cafardo, “the Astros have been exploring the possibility of Fister to round out their rotation. They’ve also discussed Yovani Gallardo, Alfredo Simon, and Kyle Lohse. The Astros would like to add a starter but are looking for a bargain at this stage.” While a few of those names might make you cringe, Lohse is the guy that makes me dry heave, other names could appear as well.

Why do I think that it is time to get a starting pitcher now because we are 20 days away from spring training beginning, so players are getting desperate to get on a team, so they have time to make plans. You could get a pitcher to sign a one to a three-year deal at this point. Remember when the Astros signed Colby Rasmus to the one-year deal before the 2015 season for a $8 million dollar deal? This is what the Astros could be looking at to give Joseph Musgrove, Francis Martes, Chris Devenski, and Brady Rodgers a change to develop further.

We discussed this on Talking Stros last night, mostly focused on Gallardo and Fister, you can listen above. Let’s take a look at the best options for the Astros at this moment. I will put it in order of least likely to most likely. Some of these players will be candidates for the rotation, and the others will be depth at Triple-A.

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Cliff Lee

The reason I put Lee this low on the list that I don’t think he would accept a bargain type of offer to come play for Houston, even though they meet the criteria of a team that could potentially go to the World Series in 2016. At this point, teams are unsure if he is even ready to play physically. Teams are unsure when he could be ready to pitch and if he is in shape, but according to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, Lee is “expected to work out for teams before Spring Training gets underway.”

If the Astros don’t get a clean medical report from him, there is little chance that the team will sign him. But, he could have the biggest impact with the Astros for the 2016 season if he is even ready to pitch. Too soon to say no chance, but I would say there is little chance he is part of the Astros.

2015 Stats: DNP

Kyle Lohse

I know Loshe was a target at the trade deadline for the Astros in 2015, but he had an overall bad season with the Brewers losing 13 games with a high ERA. He is currently 36 years old with 15 years of MLB service time. Some team will give him a chance, but I don’t think the Astros will. Any pitcher they sign had to be an upgrade over Feldman, with his performance last season; Lohse is not an upgrade, and I am glad we didn’t trade for him. He has had a great career, but he may be done. He would be a bargain bin deal, but I would rather have in-house options.

2015 Stats: 5-13/ 5.85 ERA/ 108 strikeouts in 152 1/3

Alfredo Simon

Simon was terrible last season, and his presence on the Tigers team could have led to the down season for the team. However, in 2014 he had a breakout season in 2014 winning 15 games with the Reds. He did have a winning record, but that was thanks to the offensive power of the Tigers lineup as his ERA was high for a pitcher who started 31 games in 2015. He would be more of a sign to a low one year deal and have him compete, but he would be part of the depth and not part of this Astros rotation in my opinion.

2015 Stats: 13-12/ 5.05 ERA/ 117 strikeouts in 187 innings.

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Tim Lincecum

Lincecum is the dark horse candidate here, but he is coming off hip surgery and may not be ready to start the season with the Astros. Early in his career, people tried to tell “The Freak” that his windup is not the best for his body, but he was successful with the looking up at the sky pitching style. He is a winner, as he has already won two championships with the Giants in the past three years, but he was moved to the bullpen in 2015. He now throws 88 MPH, but he used to rely on that fastball in his younger years. He is a high risk but high risk but high reward type pitcher.

The Astros could pull a deal off with Lincecum, after all, they did bring back Wandy Rodriguez as depth. However, the Astros have avoided the injured players in the past, so will they give Lincecum what’s needed post hip surgery?

2015 Stats: 7-4/ 4.13/ 60 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings.

Yovani Gallardo

While Gallardo would cost a pick, I don’t see the Astros was not adding a player if they would have to sacrifice the first round pick. People keep saying that the Astros current #18 pick is not that valuable, but let’s take a look at a few of the players drafted in the same area in the 2012 MLB draft. The 18th pick that year was Corey Seager and the 19th pick was Michael Wacha; these are players that are currently making a name for themselves. If the Astros felt Gallardo was better than what a draft pick could offer, look for the Astros to make the move. However, he will probably command the longest and largest contract from the group listed above, despite a drop in velocity.

We have covered Gallardo several times; you can read the posts below.

Astros: You Choose the Free-Agent – Yovani Gallardo vs Scott Kazmir

Houston Astros and Orioles are both interested in Yovani Gallardo

Astros Rumors: Yovani Gallardo could be a target for Luhnow

2015 Stats: 13-11/ 3.42 ERA/ 121 strikeouts in 184 1/3 innings.

Doug Fister

Fister would be huge for the Astros chances of success in 2016. With a pitcher with the pedigree of Fister as the Astros’ fifth starter, this would become one of the better rotations in baseball. Yes, I understand that he is coming off a down season, but the dude did win 16 games in 2014. Unlike several of the people above, he would fit perfect in the Astros, so let’s get him aboard. If he could return to his 2014 form, he could move up the order in down the road. Unlike Gallardo, Fister didn’t rely on velocity to pitch, so he could become a ground ball/put the ball in play type of the pitcher who eats up the innings.

For more on Fister, read the links below.

Houston Astros: Is Doug Fister an Option for the Rotation?

Astros: You Choose the Free-Agent – Doug Fister vs. Mike Leake

Next: Houston Astros: 3 Bold Predictions for the 2016 Season

I think if the Astros signed Fister, it would be a three-year with a low yearly salary with an opt-out after the first year if he finds his 2014 form this year. While Gallardo is a good option, I think that he might demand too much. Even with Gallardo, I don’t see the Astros going long-term with any of the available pitchers. I have a feeling that today will be the day, if not today, then tomorrow.

**Stats by Baseball-Reference**