Are the Astros after the Pirates ace?
The Houston Astros are now 29-12 on the season after the sweep of the Florida Marlins. One would think that the Astros front office would be content with the talent on the team. All offseason, they looked to add a top of the rotation pitcher. In the end, they settled for Charlie Morton who has been impressive.
This is what Jeff Luhnow and the scouting department does. They identify players on other teams who can help them. Players such as Will Harris, Tony Sipp, and Collin McHugh were taken from the trash heap to contributors on this team. They did so again with Morton this year, and he is drawing raves from his stuff across baseball. Added to Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, Morton completes the Astros top trio.
The rest of the rotation.
While McHugh could jump in after the All-Star break as the fourth starter, his lack of progress is not encouraging. Joe Musgrove has shown improvement after a rough stretch lowering his ERA down to 4.57. It is unclear if Musgrove would be needed in a playoff rotation, especially if the Astros decide to limit his innings.
Mike Fiers is just a placeholder until the Astros find a better option. He is good at eating up innings, but may not be the right fit for a playoff team. Fans don’t want to hear it, but Fiers is a big part of the club culture. Unlike Carlos Gomez, he will not just be dumped off this team.
I say all that to say this. The Astros will make a trade before the trade deadline. The biggest need on this team appears to be another top starting pitcher and/or a left-handed reliever. While the Astros have the pieces they need now, the backups in the pitching department are not quite ready. Francis Martes is struggling with command and going deep into games. David Paulino did go six innings in his second start of the season, but the Stros want a better option.