Time is ticking for the Astros.
With names like right-handed starter Sonny Gray and left-handed reliever Justin Wilson still on the market. All signs still point towards the Houston Astros making a move before the trade deadline. However, time is running out.
With only 12 days until the July 31st deadline, Astros fans may need to think about the future of the team possibly without making a major move. Here is a look at how that would immediately affect the starting rotation and the bullpen.
To the surprise of many, the Astros starting rotation is very deep without an ace-like pitcher in the No. 2 spot. Despite injuries to the top four starters in the rotation at some point during the 2017 season. The Astros have posted the best starting rotation ERA in the American League at 3.89, which is 0.09 points below Tampa Bay in second place.
With an AL leading .241 batting average against, the Astros are in second place. They are behind the Cleveland Indians, with a 1.26 WHIP and are No. 2 averaging 9.51 strikeouts per nine innings.
This already very good starting rotation is about to get much deeper without making a move. After being shelved with an elbow injury up to this point, Collin McHugh will make his first start of the season on July 22nd against the Baltimore Orioles. Also, Dallas Keuchel will pitch in one more rehab start on June 22nd before returning to the Astros rotation. With the return of Keuchel and McHugh, that leaves six pitchers for five spots in the rotation.
Even if Charlie Morton or Lance McCullers may not be household names yet, the Astros starting rotation has proved, despite injury, that it can get the job done no matter who is out there. With more pitchers to choose from. The Astros would have enough depth to get them through October.
This is a bit more of a tricky situation. The need of another proven left-handed bullpen piece is definitely a need going into potential series against teams with lights-out bullpens such as the Cleveland Indians or the Boston Red Sox.
The big thing for the Astros is that Tony Sipp is still performing very well. With a 4.45 ERA in 33 appearances so far this season, the 34-year-old has a 1.13 WHIP, his lowest since 2015, and a .200 batting average against, his lowest since 2014. His numbers do not change drastically though when facing left-handers versus right-handers. With a .211 batting average against lefties, Sipp has the same WHIP, at 1.13, when facing each side.
The Astros do have other pitchers that have been successful against left-handed batters. All Star Chris Devenski has a 0.56 WHIP and a .110 batting average against lefties, striking out 43 in 30.1 innings. Luke Gregerson, Will Harris, and Michael Feliz each have an opposing batting average for lefties under .260 while closer Ken Giles has a 1.02 WHIP and a .175 batting average against.
With only one veteran left-handed bullpen option, rookie left-hander Reymin Guduan may have more opportunities out of the bullpen. In his first eight innings of work at the major league level, he has struggled, giving up seven runs on 12 hits and four walks.
However, he has shown he can get lefties out both at the major league level and in his stint at Triple-A Fresno. In five innings this season against left-handed batters, Guduan has given up five hits, but only has a .250 batting average against and has struck out six. At Fresno, his ERA is drastically different, decreasing to 2.70, with 19 strikeouts in 13.1 innings.
With Sipp able to pitch against both righties and lefties and Guduan able to shut down left-handed batters, the Astros have the ability to extend their bullpen a bit. It may not be ideal, but it could be done.
***Stats provided by MLB.com, MiLB.com and ESPN.com***