SIMULATION: How we addressed Astros pitching staff

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 22: Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers follows through on a pitch in the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 22, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 22: Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers follows through on a pitch in the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 22, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /
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In the FanSided MLB Winter Meetings simulation, we addressed the Astros pitching staff with multiple additions.

It’s no secret that arguably the biggest need for the Astros this offseason is pitching. Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley are gone from the rotation, as are Will Harris, Joe Smith, Hector Rondon and Collin McHugh from the bullpen. There are plenty of holes to fill and plenty of innings to cover.

For those of you who’ve been following, you’ll know we’ve already made some moves for the Astros in our FanSided MLB Winter Meetings simulation. We traded Josh Reddick, extended George Springer and brought back Robinson Chirinos. Unfortunately that didn’t leave us hardly any payroll space to work with.

So re-signing Cole simply wasn’t going to happen, nor was a pursuit of Zack Wheeler or Madison Bumgarner. I had to look for bargains who could make a real difference, which is difficult but not impossible.

The Rotation

While a couple of bargain bin signings would be nice for depth, I still wanted to add a potential difference-maker at a low cost. I was able to do that with a one-year, $8 million contract with left-hander Rich Hill, though that was before news broke of him undergoing surgery that would cause him to miss part of the 2020 season.

I previously wrote about how Hill could be a fit, and on a one-year deal at such a reasonable price, it was a no-brainer. In spite of his age (he turns 40 in March), he’s been an incredibly effective pitcher and, if healthy, would slot in right alongside Lance McCullers Jr. and in front of Jose Urquidy in the middle of the Astros rotation. Unfortunately, news of his surgery came too late.

The rest of the additions were buy-low candidates. The first is old friend Collin McHugh, who can pitch out of the bullpen if he’s not needed in the rotation. I also brought in Danny Salazar and local product Andrew Cashner on cheap one-year deals. If Salazar can get healthy and Brent Strom can work some magic on Cashner, those could be steals.

The Bullpen

The trade of Reddick, which brought in Mark Melancon, filled a huge hole already. I would assume McHugh, who quietly pitched to a 2.67 ERA in relief in 2019, would join him, as would Brad Peacock. Those three, combined with holdovers Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna, look pretty solid.

I’ve long thought the Astros need a left-hander, so I brought in Luis Avilan on a one-year deal. He’s not coming off a great season, but he has a history of success and is still just 30 years old. Aside from Drew Pomeranz, just about every left-handed reliever available is either coming off an injury or a down year, so the front office should take its pick as to who they think will contribute.

Ten players named candidates for All-MLB team. dark. Next

There’s still additional depth on hand in Bryan Abreu and possibly Cashner or Salazar. Since I wasn’t in a position to spend big on any free agents, building depth was the way to go. We’ll see if the Astros follow suit or if they go for the big fish in Cole.

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