Astros: Not right away, but a change is needed in the rotation
By Eric Huysman
The Astros have a good top of the rotation trio, but Musgrove and Fiers have struggled at times this year.
The Houston Astros have the second best record in the major leagues at 21-11. They have done so with high batting averages with RISP, great bullpen, and a bounce back season from Dallas Keuchel. The biggest element to the season is how the Astros have handled playing versus the Rangers, winning the first three games of the series. This is the team we thought they were this offseason.
With Collin McHugh still shut down with a dead arm, there has been a hole in the rotation. He tried to pitch with the Fresno Grizzlies in his first attempt, but he left with elbow tightness per Kaplan. McHugh is probably the last piece needed for the rotation to be more consistent. Hopefully, we will see this change.
McHugh’s healthy return could be big!
According to Jake Kaplan, McHugh did throw yesterday from 45-feet. It’s the start of a long process, but McHugh will play catch every other day for about a week. Depending on his body adjusts to his that, he will try to start increasing his workload. We talked about what McHugh means to the team on last night’s Talking Stros.
It is assumed that Joe Musgrove would keep his job when McHugh returns, but what about Mike Fiers? Let’s back up a second, what about Fiers now? This year, Fiers has a 5.64 ERA with a 1-1 record while striking out 26 hitters in 30 1/3 innings.
Fiers not on Fire?
For someone who doesn’t throw hard, he does have a lot of strikeouts. Granted, not much is expected out of your fifth starter in the rotation. Fiers was great in 2015 following the trade to Houston with a 2-1 record and 3.32 ERA while striking out 59 hitters in 62 2/3. Despite winning 11 games last year, his 4.48 ERA was his second highest of his career.
Part of Fiers success has stemmed from his deceptive delivery and breaking pitches. This year, he has lost a few ticks off the fastball. Bottom line, you are not going to win too many games when the starting pitcher gives up four homers. That’s what happened on Tuesday night as he allowed five runs in the first four innings.
To Fiers credit, he did stay in and pitch six innings and strike out nine hitters last Tuesday. With his performance, he has bought himself a few more starts. The Astros can’t continue to come back from behind to win all year. Should Fiers struggle in his next two starts, it might be time to look for a change. He only lasted five innings giving up two solo homers yesterday. In his two starts last week, he gave up six homers.
Jeff Luhnow was on Sports Talk 790 recently and said that if a change is needed in the rotation, it will come from the 25-man roster. One option makes the most sense, but let’s take a look at all three options.