Where does Collin McHugh fit in the Astros’ pitching staff?
The Astros made a splash last August when the acquired Justin Verlander in the last seconds before the deadline passed. They continued to bolster their rotation by trading for Gerrit Cole last month. The Astros enter 2018 with an improved rotation and will look to capitalize on that.
Not a Bad Problem to Have
First of all, let’s not forget how good McHugh has been for the Astros in his time here. He was a Cy Young candidate in 2015 – yes, he received actual votes – and the team’s September ace in 2016. However, last year was very questionable. Between his health and rising salary costs, this made him a topic of trade discussions.
Great Start to 2018
Coming off a great spring training debut, McHugh looks poised to help the Astros pitching staff this season. In two scoreless innings, he struck out five batters. He threw 22 of his 30 pitches for strikes. Considering how little McHugh pitched last year, this bodes well for his outlook heading into the 2018 season. McHugh enters camp as the likely sixth or seventh starter on the staff, yet he has plenty of work in front of him to climb that ladder.
The Big Picture
Manager A.J. Hinch emphasized how reliable McHugh is in recent days. It is not uncommon for pitchers in their rotation to succumb to injury. Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers both spent time on the DL in the past few seasons. So, the Astros may look to him as a safety net to injuries during the season. The Astros have plenty of options at their disposal, and we all know how much the organization thrives on versatility of their players.
All in all, McHugh has value and can help any rotation in the majors. The Astros will have plenty to think about with the veteran right-hander.
The organization is not afraid to make a move if needed though, so McHugh’s level of performance before the trade deadline will have a lot to do with their decision.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball Reference**