Astros: Looking at the rotation post Verlander trade
By Eric Huysman
Justin Verlander’s arrival clouds the picture of the Astros rotation, but that’s a good thing to have the depth.
When Justin Verlander and Kate Upton landed at Bush Airport in Houston yesterday, it was a big day for Astros fans. Everyone is buzzing about the Verlander trade and what it meant post-Hurricane Harvey. However, his arrival tends to muddy the rotation picture for the regular season and playoffs.
It is highly unlikely that the Astros go with a six-man rotation in September. They have a three game lead over the Indians for the best record in the AL. With a 12.5 game lead in the AL West, the team just needs to focus on staying above the Indians.
This turn through the rotation, there could be upwards of seven starters. We are in a period of transition as Lance McCullers Jr. returns and Verlander is inserted on Tuesday. All that is certain now is that the top three will be Dallas Keuchel, Verlander, and McCullers.
The fourth and fifth starters.
That leaves a battle between Collin McHugh, Charlie Morton, Brad Peacock, and Mike Fiers. McHugh looks to be a lock because of how he has pitched and his history. The Astros also brought in Morton to be a starter, so those two are likely to remain in the rotation.
Peacock is a great five innings starter, the same can be said of Morton, but he is better served as the shutdown/multi-inning reliever. This all hinges on McCullers health as well.
Fiers is likely heading to the bullpen as another long-reliever in September. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Astros use Fiers for several spot starts in September. Don’t laugh when I say this, but Fiers could go back to the rotation late-September over Morton.
Morton, the reliever?
Hopefully, you are done laughing. Hear me out! Fiers is not making the postseason roster, in my opinion. However, Morton will be on the postseason roster. Most teams only use four starters in the playoffs, so McHugh nudges Morton here. Could change if McHugh struggles.
Morton’s role would most likely be as a hard throwing reliever in the playoffs. He could also be the long-reliever with Peacock and Joe Musgrove getting some of the more high leverage duties. If this is the role for Morton, then he would need to get used to pitching out of the bullpen. Morton’s increased velocity could play well in short stints.
Did Peacock make his last start of the season yesterday? He may have a few spot starts here or there, but his role now is to bridge the gap when a starter exits the game early. With Peacock and Musgrove in the bullpen, they will bridge the gap until Ken Giles and company are needed.
When Fiers and Peacock are needed for a start here and there, they will be ready to answer the bell. If Fiers was pitching like he was in July, things could be different. For now, the depth of the rotation is a good thing with Verlander’s addition.
Next: Astros: Looking at Justin Verlander’s struggles versus the Indians
We will discuss this and more on tonight’s broadcast of Talking Stros on SportsTalk 790 after the 10th inning show. In case you haven’t heard, we will also broadcast after every postseason game this year. Hopefully, we are busy in October.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***