The Astros should turn to a familiar face for some necessary pitching depth.
With so many of their pitchers hitting free agency, the Astros are going to have to bring in pitching help this offseason. They could use help in both the rotation and the bullpen. With that in mind, there’s a familiar face they can turn to for some quality depth — Collin McHugh.
McHugh is a free agent, along with Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, Will Harris, Joe Smith and Hector Rondon. He’s spent the past six seasons with the Astros, pitching both as a starter and a reliever, and he’s done well in both roles.
There’s not much buzz being generated around him at this point, as he’s coming off a tough season. He started the year in the rotation but was moved to the bullpen in May after a string of bad starts. He battled injuries the rest of the way, missing more than a month in the first half of the season and then missing all of September.
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He’s only 32, so it’s not as though he’s washed up. After all, he was brilliant out of the bullpen in 2018, working to a 1.99 ERA in 72.1 innings with 94 strikeouts. He also had a great run as a starter, including winning 19 games in 2015.
The fact that he’s coming off a down season makes him a great candidate to sign a one-year deal. If he can rebound, he’d be set up for a potential multi-year deal next offseason. The Astros would be taking on virtually no risk by signing him for one more year.
Nothing But Positives
Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr. and Jose Urquidy are currently penciled in to the 2020 rotation. However, Urquidy is still just a rookie, so there’s no guarantee of how well he’ll do. Plus, McCullers is coming off Tommy John surgery, so the Astros will undoubtedly manage his innings. It’s highly unlikely he makes 33 starts and throws 200 frames in 2020.
McHugh can come into Spring Training to compete for the final rotation spot. If he doesn’t get it, he’s shown he can pitch effectively out of the bullpen. Even in 2019, he still notched a 2.67 ERA in 27 relief appearances. If he’s healthy, he can contribute.
Beyond the diamond, McHugh is nothing but a positive presence in the clubhouse. He was one of the first ones out of the dugout to celebrate the Astros successes in the postseason, even though he wasn’t on the playoff roster. He and his wife contribute in the community, so there’s really no reason to not want him back in Houston next season.
The Astros need pitching depth, and McHugh can give them a quality veteran arm to help out in whichever role he’s needed. On what would likely be a one-year, low-risk deal, this is a no-brainer.