Scott Feldman is once again a key piece in the Houston Astros’ pitching rotation
When Scott Feldman joined the Houston Astros in 2014 on a three-year, $30 million contract, he was expected to be the anchor and veteran presence of the team’s rotation. Feldman was the Astros’ Opening Day starter in 2014 and threw 180+ solid innings. Feldman’s 2015 was much different. The 6’7″ righty fell into the back-end of the rotation because of an injury and the emergence of Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, and Lance McCullers.
This season, Feldman started as a part of balanced, deep starting rotation – a far cry from the rotation he initially joined in Houston – but quickly fell out of favor with a rough start to the year. Many fans saw him as expendable a few months ago, but a Feldman resurgence has proved his worth in the team’s rotation.
In Feldman’s first four starts this season, the Astros were 0-4, and he held an unimpressive 4.58 ERA and .321 AVG against. In only one of those four starts was Feldman able to last longer than five innings. The team then decided to take a longer look at Chris Devenski as a potential starter.
Feldman took the move in stride and has since appeared in several different situations for the Astros. Regardless of the situation, though, Feldman has dominated as a reliever. Since April 30, Feldman has an impressive line: 33 IP, 26 H, 23 K, 2 BB, and a 1.56 ERA.
The big righty’s current 2.56 ERA would be a career-best for a full season, and his 1.234 WHIP would be his lowest as an Astro. Feldman’s K/9 ratio of 6.2 is a full strikeout above his ’14 and ’15 numbers as well.
Keys to success
So what has led to Feldman’s rise over the past two months? An uptick in velocity and an improved focus on mechanics may be credited. According to a May article from MLB.com‘s Brian McTaggart, Feldman has worked on the timing of his mechanics and a rise in velocity has followed. The right-hander has never been a flamethrower, but there is noticeably more life on his pitches when he comes out of the bullpen.
As the season has progressed, so have Feldman’s pitching statistics. In June, Feldman followed up an impressive month of May with a 0.66 ERA over seven games and 13 2/3 innings pitched. In his only July appearance thus far, Feldman pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings to bail out a tired bullpen.
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With Feldman approaching the last half-season of his contract, some fans may see him as a trade piece. Unless he is a throw in for a larger trade, though, there isn’t much value in the 33-year-old. Feldman’s worth is highest as a member of the Houston Astros.
A full season is an absolute grind, and Feldman has shown his value as a versatile option in A.J. Hinch‘s pitching rotation. Feldman is available for spot starts to give the other five guys a rest and is only a sore arm or a few more Mike Fiers bad starts away from gaining a full spot in the rotation.
On the other hand, if Feldman continues to perform as well as he is, he may be called upon as a high-leverage reliever. Whichever way you spin it, there is serious value in a pitcher that can do it all in a rotation for a team with playoff aspirations.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***