Free agent starting pitchers the Astros should consider

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 05: J.A. Happ #34 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the first inning of Game One of the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on October 5, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 05: J.A. Happ #34 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the first inning of Game One of the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on October 5, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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In the wake of news that Lance McCullers Jr.will miss all of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Astros are in need of rotation help.

In just a few short weeks, it seems like the Astros have gone from having the game’s best rotation to having a rotation full of uncertainty. Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton are now free agents, and McCullers won’t be taking the mound until 2020.

The good news is the team still has a pair of aces in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, so they don’t need to overpay for a big ticket acquisition. As much as I’d like to see top free agent Patrick Corbin in Houston, he has draft pick compensation attached after receiving a qualifying offer, and the market will drive up his price. Let someone else overpay him.

The Astros also have a number of in-house candidates, with Collin McHugh seemingly in line to rejoin the rotation, so it’s far from time to panic. Still, the team would do well to add a reliable mid-rotation starter to the mix, either through free agency or trade.

A veteran who can give the team 30 starts and above-average numbers would be a big addition. The Astros could look to bring back Keuchel or Morton, but if not, here are some free agent players who could fit the mold. Note that I’m listing players who could reasonably be expected to provide mid-rotation stability, rather than reclamation projects.

Lance Lynn

This season was the first in which Lynn posted an ERA above 4.00, though he was better after being traded to the Yankees and dramatically reducing his walk rate. His Fielding Independent Pitching (3.84) was much better than his overall ERA (4.77), suggesting this season may have been an aberration.

The main selling point for Lynn is his reliability — he’s made at least 29 starts every season since 2012, with the exception of the 2016 season he missed. He might require a multi-year deal but won’t break the bank in either length or dollars.

Nathan Eovaldi

Eovaldi might be the most expensive option on this list thanks to his performance with Boston down the stretch. After missing all of 2017, he rebounded in a big way this year. He’s also still just 28-years old, so the market could price him out of the Astros’ range.

Still, he might be the most effective option aside from Corbin. He throws hard and has added a cutter to his repertoire; he’d fit right in next to fellow flamethrowers Verlander and Cole. If the price is right, Eovaldi would be a big boost to the Astros staff.

J.A. Happ

The former Astro is having a late career breakout, with four straight seasons of a sub-4.00 ERA. At age 36, he won’t require a long commitment. He’d also give the Astros something they don’t currently have: a lefty.

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The Yankees will surely want him back after he went 7-0 for them down the stretch, but he’d fit in perfectly behind Verlander and Cole in the Astros’ rotation. A reunion wouldn’t be out of the question.

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