Houston Astros Targeting Danny Duffy or Yordano Ventura?
By Eric Huysman
While you could see the benefits of trading for Yordano Ventura, would the Houston Astros add such a player?
Imagine this, now pitching for your Houston Astros, ‘Ace’ Ventura. Ever since Yordano Ventura made his debut, I referred to him as “Ace.” He hit some bumps the last few years and demonstrated immaturity at times. Last year, Ventura was suspended for eight games for throwing (99 mph) at Manny Machado. The incident caused a bench-clearing brawl between the two teams. Machado served a four-game suspension for his involvement.
When Ventura first came up, he threw in the upper 90’s with his fastball, averaging 97.5 mph in 2013. Last year, he was averaging 96.5 mph on the fastball. Even when he broke into the league in 2013, he wasn’t the strikeout pitcher that he should have been. His highest K/9 innings pitched was in 2015 when he had 8.60, but demonstrated strikeout ability in the minor leagues.
It is clear that he is not an ace at this point, but what he represents is a player with high upside. The past two seasons, Ventura had an ERA over four, 4.08 and 4.45 respectively. Ventura has a winning record over his career with 38 wins and 31 loses. With a few tweaks to his delivery, he could be a decent pitcher. Consider him a project, one that a pitching coach like Brett Strom could handle.
We talked about the starters available via trade last night.
Are the Astros willing to add Ventura?
Brian McTaggart wrote, after the Winter Meetings, that the Astros targets were the normal names mentioned often. The names like Jose Quintana, Jake Odorrizi, and Chris Archer. He mentioned a name that I have mentioned before in Danny Duffy, but the name that was surprising was Ventura. I guess I assumed the Royals would not trade Ventura, but after researching a little more, I think they will.
Jeff Passan wrote the following last June, before the trade deadline.
"“Recently, inside the Kansas City Royals’ clubhouse, Yordano Ventura was talking about how he planned on hitting Jose Bautista with a pitch the next time he faced him. The people around Ventura rolled their eyes, tired of the bluster, done with the immaturity, hopeful he was playing fugazi instead of the on-field arsonist they’d seen too many times for their liking.” – Jeff Passan."
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With all the ability the Ventura processes, it means nothing if he doesn’t have his head screwed on right. He has a long history of throwing at hitters, something that Astros manager A.J. Hinch doesn’t tolerate. The 25-year-old flame thrower is getting older after debuting at the age of 22. Passon mentioned that his teammates are tired of his act, so you can see why he struggled in 2016. If the team doesn’t have his back, he probably didn’t perform like he could have.
Ventura compared to LMJ.
Ventura needs a change of scenery, but I’m not sure how much he could help the Astros. Jon Morosi recently said the Astros need a swing and miss type of pitcher. Like Lance McCullers, Ventura can throw in the upper nineties. The thing that differentiates the two pitchers is what is above the shoulders. McCullers has a smart baseball IQ and knows how to act.
Next: Astros Rumors: Danny Duffy an option?
Like McCullers, Ventura does come with playoff experience. Ventura has 46 1/3 innings of playoff experience, with 36 strikeouts and a 4.66 ERA. Does this meet the needs of the Houston Astros for the 2017 season? No, but he could be a cheap option with team control until 2019. There are two team options for 2020 and 2021 as well. The Royals should want to part with him, but I’m not sold on it on Houston’s side. I’d rather trade for Duffy instead.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs***