The Houston Astros’ pitching prospect Josh James is out of the competition for the 5th spot in the starting rotation after suffering a quad strain.
According to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle, Josh James, once a front runner for the Astros’ 5th starting spot, is now out of the running due to a quad strain. A. J. Hinch has stated James is most likely not a possibility, narrowing down the field for that final starting pitcher. They are hoping he’ll still be ready by opening day to fill one of the spots in the bullpen.
Surprisingly, Hinch has also taken three other top prospects out of the picture. Forrest Whitley, Corbin Martin and J. B. Bukauskas are apparently not yet ready for the majors and will be starting out the season in the minor leagues. “The kids that everyone will immediately go to — Whitley, Martin, Bukauskas — those guys are not options to break out of camp. They’re not ready to jump into a rotation.”
The pitchers remaining as the top candidates are Brad Peacock and Framber Valdez, with Brady Rodgers and Cionel Perez outside candidates for the job. Of course, if the front office thought it was a possibility, there is still an unsigned free agent by the name of Dallas Keuchel.
Peacock is the pitcher with the most experience, having a stellar season as a starter as recently as 2017. He went 13-2 in 21 starts and had a respectable ERA of 3.00. He also struck out 161 batters in 132 innings giving him an 11 SO/9 ratio.
Valdez was impressive in his major league debut last year after a late-season call-up. He had an ERA of 2.19 and going 4-1 in his five starts and pitched out of the bullpen in three other games. Valdez has had one appearance so far this Spring pitching two scoreless innings, although his command was a little off, walking one batter and hitting another.
Brady, a third-round draft pick in 2012, is coming back from Tommy John surgery. He has a lot of AAA experience and was named the Pacific Coast Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2016. Perez was another late-season call-up last year but pitched solely out of the pen. Prior to that, he started 11 games for the AAA team in 2018 going 7-1 with a 2.08 ERA.
There is a lot of Spring Training games ahead for these pitchers to get a chance to pad there resumes for that 5th spot in the rotation. There’s also still a few free agents looking for jobs that the front office might want to consider, there is room on the payroll. Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see how this competition pans out.