Astros: Why you should be excited that Collin McHugh is back

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 16: Starting pitcher Collin McHugh
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 16: Starting pitcher Collin McHugh /

Don’t look for the Astros to go to a 6-man rotation and fans should be excited to see what Collin McHugh can offer!

The Astros have a big lead in the AL West even after losing the weekend series to the Mariners. With the rumors of the Astros in the market for a starting pitcher, we are about to have too many starters. Collin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel will return soon. McHugh will be starting Saturday for the first time.

When Keuchel returns after 1-2 more rehab starts, there will be some tough decisions to be made. It has already been announced that Joe Musgrove will move to the bullpen with McHugh returning. Most likely Francis Martes or Reymin Guduan goes down to get McHugh on the active roster.

The rotation currently consists of Lance McCullers, Mike Fiers, Charlie Morton, and Brad Peacock. Musgrove was in, but they will try him out in the bullpen. With McHugh in, it will be between Fiers and Peacock when Keuchel returns.

The bullpen candidates.

The question then is who would perform better in the bullpen between Fiers and Peacock. That is a slam dunk. Peacock has the success this season in the early part of the season. Peacock did win his eight games of the year Tuesday night and has a 2.49 ERA. He has struck out 93 hitters in 68 2/3 innings.

Let’s take a look at his splits this year as a reliever versus starter.

Bullpen: 12 games/ 1.10 ERA/ 22 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings.

Starter: 10 games/ 2.92 ERA/ 71 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings.

A.J. Hinch will take this into consideration when the time comes. However, fans want the Astros to go to a six-man rotation to include everyone. Teams don’t like to do six-man rotations in general. They want the pitchers to be on a regular schedule in the playoffs.

In September, sometimes teams do include the extra starter, but not in late July. The reason for the post was to address a fan’s tweet that he sent Talking Stros yesterday. He asked why everyone is excited about McHugh returning? He’s been inconsistent in his career.

McHugh? McWho cares?

McHugh didn’t have his best season last year, but in his last eight starts of 2016, he was aces. During that eight game stretch, McHugh went 6-0 with a 2.45 ERA while striking out 40 hitters in 47 2/3 innings pitched. While the rest of the rotation imploded, McHugh and Peacock got better at the end of the year.

He may not have eye popping stats last year that Peacock has this year. Then again, Peacock wasn’t this good last year either. The Astros gave him another chance this year and look what he has done with it. McHugh won 19 games in 2015 and can be an above average middle of the rotation pitcher.

Even last year, McHugh had decent stats with a 13-10 record with a 4.34 ERA with 177 strikeouts in 184 1/3 innings. After the Yankees crushing him in Game 2 of the season last year, McHugh turned into the Astros ace at the end of the year. He can eat up some innings and keep the team in the game with this dynamic offense.

Playoff kicker?

Plus, McHugh does have playoff experience with the 2015 squad. Outside of Keuchel, McHugh, and McCullers, none of the other starters have started a postseason game. Fiers did pitch one inning in game five of the ALDS in 2015.

McHugh brings in a history of success and a bona fide starter. After he is stretched out, he should be able to pitch 6-7 innings most games. On days that a starter is off, Hinch can bring in Peacock pitch three plus innings out of the pen.

With McHugh, you should be excited because it is unknown what he can offer. His start Saturday should be highly anticipated to see what he can offer the team. He’s either going to be a bust or an asset to this team. If he is a bust, Peacock can enter the rotation, or you can trade for another starter.

Next: Astros Prediction: Brad Peacock gets one more start before returning to bullpen

We don’t need McHugh to be an ace, but we need quality starts from him. No one expected this success from Peacock either. Show us what you can do McHugh. There is competition for the rotation, when has that ever been a bad thing. This is all a mute point if they trade for a starter.

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***