Astros: Free agent pitcher Julio Teheran a viable option

The Astros still haven’t been able to reign in that pitcher they are wanting to shore up the rotation and Julio Teheran might just be the answer.

After picking up Joe Smith to return to the Astros bullpen, their goal of hauling in an everyday catcher and starting pitcher still haven’t been met. With ten of the top eleven free agent starters ranked by ESPN already signed with other teams, the number of options left is waning. Julio Teheran is one of the better ranking pitchers remaining on the list.

ESPN has Teheran ranked as the 14th top starting pitcher on the free-agent market and comes in as the 29th overall free agent. The Atlanta Braves declined the $12 million option for 2020 and opted to sign free agent Cole Hamels to join their rotation for next season, making Teheran available.

With the Astros payroll situation currently putting them approximately $24 million over the tax threshold, signing a middle-tier pitcher like Teheran is pretty much their only choice, barring any kind of trade. Jeff Luhnow has already indicated that it’s unlikely that any core players will be traded, so that option may be off the table.

I personally don’t see the need for bringing in a top-tier starter when you already have Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, and Lance McCullers Jr. already heading up the rotation. A #4 caliber pitcher should be all they need and Teheran would fit that bill easily.

One of the aspects I really like about Teheran is his durability year-after-year. The 28-year-old has started a minimum of 30 games each of his last seven seasons. With McCullers coming back from a year off due to his surgery and the probability that the fifth starter will most likely be one of the Astros prospects, a reliable pitcher that can eat up innings all season long could be a needed asset.

Teheran has had a decent career to date carrying a 3.67 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in his nine years of Major League ball. He has made the All-Star roster twice and as recently as 2016. Last season Teheran went 10-11 and had a respectable ERA+ of 119.

Pitching coach Brent Strom might just be the answer to aiding Julio Teheran in honing his skills and take him to that next level like he’s done with so many other pitchers. Learning from the likes of Verlander and Greinke can’t hurt either. I think Teheran has yet to reach his peak and might just be the right pitcher for the Astros to plug into their rotation for the next few years.