The obvious first name has to be Astros’ right-hander Collin McHugh. After all, McHugh has been a part of the Houston rotation many more times than not since the 2014 season. It was quite strange to see him off the ALDS roster against Boston. Not unexpected, mind you, but strange nonetheless.
But credit the veteran pitcher with his outlook and team-first viewpoint.
This was a refreshing, yet expected take from McHugh. I have a gut feeling that it will be down to him, Brad Peacock and Charlie Morton for the final two rotation spots. In hindsight, an argument can be made that Houston’s decision makers should’ve chose McHugh over either Peacock or Morton in the previous series. But it was understandable why Houston chose Peacock and Morton.
Odds are that McHugh will make the roster. His ability to pitch four to six effective innings would be a welcomed asset. It is much more likely to see two starting pitchers appear in the same game in the postseason than the regular season. See the Nationals-Cubs game on Wednesday. The Astros even hinted to the idea of carrying twelve pitchers in the ALCS on Wednesday.
This is the likely scenario as a seven-game series is another animal compared to a five-game series. An additional pitcher provides that needed flexibility. While Tyler Clippard and Francis Martes provide useful depth, McHugh has been a more proven player. His track record – 3.70 ERA in 606.1 innings since 2014 – speaks for itself. Of course, he may not transition well to a bullpen role from a starting role. The same could be said of Morton. Only Peacock could, in theory, make that transition rather seamlessly.
Another, albeit useless, reason why McHugh may be included: Past performances in September and October. 2.45 ERA in 2016. 3.76 ERA in 2015. 1.59 ERA in 2014. Like I said, useless. But interesting. 4.26 ERA in 2017. Or maybe not.