The Astros make a switch in the pitching rotation to give Gerrit Cole a few extra days rest.
With less than two weeks before the regular season concludes, the Astros will try to give some starting pitchers some rest. You don’t want to skip a turn in the rotation because it could throw the pitcher off their routine. However, it wouldn’t hurt to give a pitcher extra few days off between starts as the team preps for October. This is why it’s not surprising to see Josh James get the start tomorrow night in place of Gerrit Cole.
According to Jake Kaplan, this is indeed the case. James will make his second MLB start tomorrow. In his first start, he pitched five innings and struck out nine batters, but gave up a three-run homer that accounted for all the damage against him. He has made two other appearances as a reliever. In all, he has 17 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings pitched in the big leagues. All stats via Baseball-Reference. James has allowed two homers, but that’s going to happen when you throw in the upper 90’s.
James gets another start.
If you have a promising arm like him on the active roster, why not give him another start? The primary reason is to give Cole extra rest, but it’s also to see him make another start to see what they got for 2019. As we discussed on last night’s Talking Stros, we hope to see some of the young prospects play in the final week of the regular season. That will mean that the team has a comfortable enough lead over the Athletics.
Depending on how Lance McCullers returns from his injury, James has an outside chance of making the postseason roster. It’s a long shot, but having a pitcher who throws 100 mph out of the bullpen in October would be an asset. If given the option, they would likely go with a more proven reliever in the postseason.
Cole has started 30 games, and he could potentially make two more starts, but AJ Hinch could also be setting up his postseason rotation. Dallas Keuchel will start on Wednesday, Cole on Friday, Justin Verlander on Saturday, and Charlie Morton on Saturday. According to David Barron, Hinch has said that each of his starters will get two more starts this year. The when is up in the air trying to line up the rotation.
Cole has a 14-5 record on the season with a 2.88 ERA on the season. He has already established a new season-high with 260 strikeouts in 2018 in 197 1/3 innings pitched. His previous high was 202 in 208 innings pitched in 2015. I expected Cole to be the second starter in the playoffs, but they could sandwich the lefty Keuchel between them.