Astros’ Collin McHugh, Brent Strom to represent team for All-Star Tour in Japan
By Cody Poage
The World Series has concluded, and the offseason is bound to be full of activity. But there is still baseball to be played overseas this year.
Dating back to 1986, Major League Baseball has irregularly participated in an event coined as the MLB Japan All-Star Series. Besides the 1994 Players Strike, the event used to take place every two years from 1986 to 2006. Following an eight-year hiatus, the series returned in 2014. Fast forward another four years, and the series will again take place across Japan from November 8th through November 15th.
Numerous high-profile players familiar to fans in the United States have participated in the event since its inception like Barry Bonds, Hideki Matsui, David Ortiz, Kazuo Matsui, Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, Sammy Sosa, and Jose Altuve. Here are the players along with the coaching staff representing the United States this year:
- Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals
- Amed Rosario, New York Mets
- Carlos Santana, Philadelphia Phillies
- Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds
- Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves
- Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners
- Enrique Hernandez, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies
- Kevin Pillar, Toronto Blue Jays
- Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
- Robinson Chirinos, Texas Rangers
- Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
- J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
- Matt Andriese, Arizona Diamondbacks
- Scott Barlow, Kansas City Royals
- John Brebbia, St. Louis Cardinals
- Junior Guerra, Milwaukee Brewers
- Brian Johnson, Boston Red Sox
- Kenta Maeda, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Chris Martin, Texas Rangers
- Collin McHugh, Houston Astros
- Daniel Norris, Detroit Tigers
- Vidal Nuno, Tampa Bay Rays
- Dan Otero, Cleveland Indians
- Yusmeiro Petit, Oakland A’s
- Erasmo Ramirez, Seattle Mariners
- Hector Velazquez, Boston Red Sox
- Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres
For the coaching staff, the squad’s manager will be Marlins’ skipper Don Mattingly. Edgar Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Fredi Gonzalez, Hensley Meulens, Brent Strom, and Henry Blanco round out Mattingly’s staff for the event.
Headlined by the likes of rookie standouts in Acuna Jr. and Soto, the United States squad features plenty of quality players. Both of these young stars had tremendous 2018 campaigns. One of these two players will most likely come away with the NL Rookie of the Year award.
The Astros‘ lone player representative this year will be McHugh, one of the club’s best relievers in 2018. Across 72 1/3 innings as a reliever, McHugh posted a 1.99 ERA and 2.72 FIP. Quite solid numbers for a pitcher who had started exclusively for Houston in the regular season since joining the squad back in 2014.
Hopefully the whole world gets to see why McHugh, when healthy, has been one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball during the past few seasons. If certain events transpire for the Astros in the offseason, McHugh should be on the short list to receive another opportunity to start for the club. Strom, Houston’s pitching coach, will also make the trip to Japan as the United States’ pitching coach. Here’s to a solid showing from the Astros’ contingent in Japan. Let’s hope some fun, quality baseball takes place to help us bridge the gap from today to spring training.