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Astros Report Card: Grading the starting pitchers of 2019

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HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 03: (L-R) Wade Miley #20 of the Houston Astros, Joe Smith #38, Gerrit Cole #45 and Justin Verlander #35 chat during batting practice before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on August 03, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 03: (L-R) Wade Miley #20 of the Houston Astros, Joe Smith #38, Gerrit Cole #45 and Justin Verlander #35 chat during batting practice before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on August 03, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Astros - Brad Peacock
HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 19: Brad Peacock #41 of the Houston Astros delivers the pitch against the New York Yankees during the second inning in game six of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 19, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The latter end of the starting rotation was a much more fluid situation as the ebb and flow of pitchers came and went, searching for consistency. After the top four pitchers of Verlander, Cole, Greinke, and Miley, the Astros started 10 different pitchers in 52 of their games. Let’s take a look at a few of the major players.

Brad Peacock: C

Carrying most of the load was Brad Peacock, who started 15 games for Houston this season. In those games that he started, he went 6-7 with an ERA of 4.24. Peacock seemed to be more comfortable and successful in the role of a reliever going 2-0 and carrying a 3.27 ERA in the eight games that he came out of the bullpen.

Collin McHugh: C-

McHugh started out the season as one of the starters in the initial rotation, but after his first eight appearances, he would spend the remainder of the year pitching out of the bullpen. In his eight starts, McHugh went 3-4 with a 6.37 ERA and a WHIP of 1.22. Like Peacock, McHugh fared much better as a reliever sporting an ERA of 2.67.

Jose Urquidy: B-

Astros - Jose Urquidy
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 26: Jose Urquidy #65 of the Houston Astros delivers the pitch against the Washington Nationals during the second inning in Game Four of the 2019 World Series at Nationals Park on October 26, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Don’t let the ERA of 4.24 in the seven starts for Urquidy fool you. I was impressed with the way he handled himself, considering he was pulled up and down between the Majors and the Minors like a yoyo. Urquidy continued to improve as the season progressed, rounding out the season with a great September, posting a 1.50 ERA for the month.

His late-season success impressed management so much, he made the postseason roster for the ALDS, ALCS, and the World Series. Proving no situation is too big for him, his postseason ERA was 0.90 surrendering just one run in 10 innings of work. Urquidy may have just worked his way into next season’s starting rotation.

Framber Valdez: D

Valdez also started eight games for the Astros in 2019 and had the highest ERA (7.07) of any starter on the team with more than one start. He still hasn’t really mastered locating his pitches, a problem that has plagued Valdez for a while. This was evidenced by his 5.80 BB/9 and 1.70 K/BB ratios, both among the worst on the pitching staff.

Next. Astros should bring Collin McHugh back for 2020 season. dark

Stay tuned for the upcoming fourth installment of the 2019 Report Cards, when I take a look at the catchers and designated hitters. If you happened to miss them, be sure to check out the grades for the infielders and outfielders in the first two installments of the series.

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