Will the Houston Astros trade for a starting pitcher at the trade deadline?
While we are still five weeks away from the trade deadline, the Astros most likely will trade for a starting pitcher. They will not go after a fourth or fifth starter. They have those aplenty. The Astros want another great pitcher to add to the big two to become a terrific three.
Tom Verducci of SI echoed this idea in his recent piece suggesting the Astros are after Jacob deGrom. While that may not happen, names like Gerrit Cole and Sonny Gray are more likely. There are some other names out there, but we are still waiting to see the standings at the end of July.
McCullers is returning.
At the time of writing, the Astros top two starters are on the DL in Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers. With McCullers returning to the mound today, part of the void in the rotation will be filled. Except for a few games here and there, we didn’t notice that they were gone.
We did notice, but we are still 11.5 games above the Seattle Mariners in the AL West. The Astros have the opportunity to make sure their starters are healthy. On the pregame show, A.J. Hinch mentioned that they were setting up McCullers so he would not have to bat in Atlanta. They have the opportunity to be safe at the moment with their rotation.
The silver lining of this situation is that a few things happened while Keuchel, McCullers, and Charlie Morton were away.
Mike Fiers rediscovered his 2015 form that the Astros desired in the trade. After being told he was going to the bullpen, things changed with Morton hitting the DL. After that moment and working with McCullers, Fiers is a different man. Fiers is now 5-2 with a respectable 3.81 ERA. The impressive stat is that he has not allowed a homer in June.
Brad Peacock gets stretched out. Peacock was supposed to replace Fiers in the rotation, but they have both pitched well. Peacock will most likely stay in the rotation with the return of the others with his 4-1 record with a 2.82 ERA. Not guaranteed a roster spot this spring, Peacock has struck out 66 hitters in 44 2/3 innings.
Two trade throw-ins have become valuable backups or trade targets.
Francis Martes and David Paulino have had some bumps along the road. However, they both have been given valuable MLB experience with the injuries. When the Astros top three pitchers return, they will most likely replace Paulino and Martes. The third name is most likely going to be Joe Musgrove unless you take Fiers out of the rotation.
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Musgrove had his worst start of the regular season last night raising his 6.01 ERA after allowing nine earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. He has struggled in June with a 0-3 with a 10.29 ERA. Musgrove allowed 16 earned runs in 14 innings while striking out 13 hitters. He has lost what got him to the majors by throwing strikes. Could be time to go down to Triple-A for a little while.
The Astros have something that most teams can’t say. They have nine pitchers who deserve to be in the starting rotation (Collin McHugh is included). Unless Peacock maintains his dominance or McHugh makes a successful return, do you have confidence in these guys in the playoffs?
McCullers and Keuchel will be a great one and two in the playoffs, maybe someone else will be the three. Depending on health, the Astros have the depth to succeed in the regular season. The Astros could use one more quality starting pitcher. They don’t need more quantity. Some of the extra arms had a chance to get some experience during this time.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***