Astros relief ace Ryan Pressly appears set to make his return, but Collin McHugh‘s season is likely over.
As the regular season winds down, the Astros are simply hoping to get all their key contributors healthy for the playoff run. With regard to bullpen arms Ryan Pressly and Collin McHugh, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news is Pressly should be making his return from knee surgery any day now. He threw live batting practice before Tuesday’s game, totaling about 20 pitches. He also practiced fielding bunts and covering first base. The consensus seems to be that he’ll rejoin the team sometime this week, though a specific return date hasn’t been announced.
This would give Pressly an opportunity to get into a few games before the end of the season. The hope is that he can use those games to get back into a rhythm, shake off the rust and fine tune everything. The Astros could surely use him at full strength for the playoffs.
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The bad news, however, is that McHugh was shut down after continuing to experience pain while throwing. This means he probably won’t be able to return in the regular season. As such, it’s doubtful the Astros would include him on a postseason roster even if he comes back healthy in time for that.
In other news, Brad Peacock is getting closer to a return. He threw a bullpen session on Monday and is set to throw live batting practice on Thursday. At this rate, barring setbacks, it looks like he could rejoin the team sometime next week.
What This Means for McHugh
If this does indeed mean McHugh’s season is over, he finishes with a 4-5 record and 4.70 ERA in 74.2 innings. The 32-year-old is a free agent after this season, so this hasn’t exactly been an ideal walk year for someone who could have earned a nice payday with a solid, healthy season.
However, he looks like the ideal candidate for a one-year bounce-back contract. If he takes a one-year deal and can stay healthy and productive, he could parlay that into a possible multi-year deal in free agency the following season.
Given that the Astros will have plenty of uncertainty in the rotation with Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley also hitting free agency, it’s possible the team could be the one to give McHugh that one-year deal so he can reestablish his value. There’s little risk involved, and there’s plenty of familiarity between the two parties.
But if he goes elsewhere, 2019 serves as a disappointing ending to what was an excellent run for McHugh in Houston. Over the past six seasons, he’s posted a 58-35 record with a 3.63 ERA across 110 starts and 85 relief appearances. His highlights were a 2.73 ERA in 25 starts in 2014, winning 19 games in 2015, and posting a 1.99 ERA in relief in 2018.
He was an excellent pickup for GM Jeff Luhnow and should be able to have continued success provided he can stay healthy.