Josh James is slated to make his MLB debut for the Astros tomorrow.
When Charlie Morton hit the DL after Tuesday’s loss to the Athletics, it was announced that he might miss one start. While he was placed on the DL with shoulder discomfort, as reported by Chandler Rome, it was most likely a way to give his arm a breather. He had already surpassed his highest regular season innings total since 2014. Last year he had 146 2/3 innings, but he didn’t become Charlie Freaking Morton until the playoffs. This year he has thrown innings, all stats via Baseball-Reference.
Morton just looked fatigued in that start and rosters are set to expand tomorrow, so get him healthy for the playoffs. It’s hard to feel comfortable with only a 2.5 game lead in the AL West, but the A’s rotation is showing signs of faltering. Framber Valdez is already in the rotation for Lance McCullers, and I don’t think the team wanted to do another bullpen day. They needed another option.
Enter, Josh James.
Josh James had busted on the scene this year in Double-A and Triple-A with a combined 6-4 record with a 3.23 ERA. His ERA has risen since he joined the Fresno Grizzlies, but you have to factor in that the Pacific Coast League is a hitter’s league. With the Hooks, he had a 2.49 ERA and had a 3.40 ERA with the Grizzlies. Nothing to worry about with the jump of levels. The impressive thing is how he has pitched, striking out 171 hitters in 114 1/3 innings.
That was not a typo. This kid has risen some eyebrows this year and is Rule 5 draft eligible this offseason and would have definitely been claimed by another team. It was only a matter of time before they had to add him to the 40-man roster anyway, so why not now in the middle of the playoffs hunt? According to Jake Kaplan, James will be called up tomorrow to start versus the Angels.
Will he stay in the rotation? That will depend on whether the Astros decide to have a semi-six-man rotation to rest arms. I really don’t see that happening, but they could hold Morton out a little longer if James is successful. He could also be a long reliever or make a spot start here or there, but I see him staying on the roster through September. Unless he really impresses, the numbers don’t add up for him being a factor in the 2018 playoffs. But things can change.
Brian McCann will also be activated tomorrow and has caught James in Triple-A during his rehab. Maybe this will help calm the 25-year-old James’ nerves tomorrow in his major league debut. James will give us a sneak peak of the next wave of Astros starting pitchers. Maybe next year, Forrest Whitley will be next. That all depends on what happens with Dallas Keuchel and Morton. Excited to be there tomorrow for James’ debut.