With news that Collin McHugh has thrown off the mound, will the right-hander be the answer to the Astros pitching woes after the All-Star Break?
Too Soon to Tell
This is a small step for Collin McHugh, but a positive step to say the least. It has been over a month since we’ve heard of the 29-year-old right-hander has thrown in some fashion. A.J. Hinch stated that we would not see McHugh pitch for the Astros until the second half of the season.
However, the Astros will benefit from this progression occurring before the trade deadline. As we all know, the rotation is in need of help on the back end, McHugh would be a significant upgrade.
Market is Small
The current market for starting pitching is small. Gerrit Cole and Chris Archer are mentioned as options for the Astros. However, if McHugh shows progress and is capable of returning healthy, the Astros may pass on a starting pitcher. According to Jake Kaplan, McHugh threw off the mound before yesterday’s game.
In an interview, McHugh said that he would throw off the mound for every other day for a little while until he feels ready to take the next step. While this is a positive step, don’t expect him to return until after the All-Star game. He did not have a full spring training so that he will be starting from scratch. It will take him time to stretch out, but his return seems closer now.
Collin’s return would give the Astros options, and allow them to approach a trade more conservatively. The organization is full of young talent. McHugh’s return gives Jeff Lunhow and staff the ability to hold their cards more closely to the chest, and trade with more control of the cost to acquire towards the team’s need.
Quality Starts a Must for a Championship
Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. Pitching is the biggest defensive position in baseball. To win games consistently, quality pitching is necessary. Furthermore, quality starting pitchers are paramount to post season success.
As the Indians and Cubs proved last season, starting pitching is the cornerstone of a championship season. For the Astros, Collin McHugh is a key part of this approach.
All in all, Collin McHugh is a quality pitcher who can change the rotation significantly. He has veteran experience, success in the playoffs and consistency. Most importantly, the Astros are in a great position to strengthen their pitching staff with several options.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***