Like the Houston weather this winter, the Astros interest in starting pitchers has varied between hot and cold.
Outside of the usual names of Jose Quintana, Chris Archer, and Sonny Gray, the Astros have reportedly been interested in a bevy of pitchers for their rotation. However, the only external pitcher they have added to their major league roster is Charlie Morton.
We shouldn’t take that as a sign that the Astros front office isn’t serious. In fact, the asking price for pitchers, starters, and relievers are about as high as ever before. See the return that the Chicago White Sox received for Chris Sale this offseason or the New York Yankees for Aroldis Chapman last summer. It is quite understandable to see why Jeff Luhnow has been reluctant to pull off any notable trades. See the reported package that the Tampa Bay Rays turned down for Archer.
In light of the pitching market, the Astros are stuck in pitching limbo. Well, sort of stuck.
I’ll be frank; this team needs another starting pitcher or two. Yes, I know that the starting rotation last season wasn’t quite as bad as others would like to believe. The unit’s 4.17 FIP was twelfth best in baseball last year. And that’s with the struggles of Dallas Keuchel and the injuries to Lance McCullers factored into the equation.
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Whether that be internal or external, I don’t care at this point. And like I’ve thought in the past, this franchise needs to lean on their own ability to develop quality pitchers on a consistent basis. They can’t just continually rely on trades with other franchises to fill needs.
However, it wouldn’t be prudent not to explore external options that make this roster better. And while Keuchel and McCullers are good pitchers when healthy, you have to account for the worst.
From an internal perspective, there are definitely options. Joseph Musgrove and Frances Martes are definitely two names that come to mind almost immediately. Chris Devenski and Michael Feliz are a couple of options. You certainly can’t discount Mike Fiers and Morton. It just remains to be seen if they can provide the depth that a playoff-caliber team needs in the regular season.
As a result of the lack of action in light of the numerous rumors, there has been thoughts about whether this front office has gotten cold feet about improving the pitching staff. I personally don’t think that is the case. However, I do think it wouldn’t be wise to not check in on the market from time to time. Let’s hope the internal options come through for the Astros. If not, we may be stuck in pitching limbo for a while longer.
**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs**