The Astros will give Josh James a second opportunity this spring to open the season as one of Houston’s starters after coming up short last year.
Last season, Josh James was one of the prospects the Astros had on their radar, literally and figuratively, as one of the pitchers to round out the starting rotation. Unfortunately for James, he suffered a strained quadricep early in spring training and was shut down for a period of time. As a result, he was taken out of the competition for a starting spot and was relegated to the bullpen for the 2019 season.
James is once again in the running to make the starting rotation and is ironically competing with the same pitchers, Brad Peacock and Framber Valdez. It’s interesting how the tables have turned in the 2020 version of spring training. This spring, it’s Peacock who has suffered a setback, opening the door a little wider for James.
In his first bullpen session of the year, James was throwing out of the full windup position indicating the Astros are prepping him to start games this spring. James stated yesterday that it will take some time to get used to a full windup after spending the entire 2019 season pitching from the stretch.
"“Right now, I’m not feeling too comfortable out of the windup because I’ve been primarily in the stretch, especially being a reliever all year last year, so just some stuff to work out of the windup to get comfortable,” he said. via Brian McTaggart of MLB.com."
He also continues to work on a new delivery that was implemented after his return from the Injured List late last season. The Astros felt that the pitch control issue James experienced last season was due to a flaw in his delivery. They thought his pitch command would improve by shortening his arm swing during the delivery process. As a result, his walks per nine innings dropped from 5.45 before the change to 3.6 after using the new delivery.
Along with the aforementioned Valdez and Peacock, Austin Pruitt and Jose Urquidy are also competing for a starting position making it one heck of a battle to monitor this spring. But if James can get back to his 2018 form, he’ll give everyone a run for their money. In that late-season callup, he went 2-0 with an ERA of 2.35 in his six appearances, including three starts.