Astros News

Astros sign pitcher Chase De Jong from Sugar Land Skeeters

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 9: Minnesota Twins pitcher Chase De Jong throws to the Kansas City Royals in the first inning during their baseball game on September 9, 2018, at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Andy King/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 9: Minnesota Twins pitcher Chase De Jong throws to the Kansas City Royals in the first inning during their baseball game on September 9, 2018, at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Andy King/Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros have added more pitching depth by signing Chase De Jong.

For the second time since this season began, the Houston Astros have gone local to add additional depth to their depleted pitching staff. After agreeing to a deal with veteran Fernando Rodney last week, the club has yet again poached a pitcher from the Sugar Land Skeeters, this time agreeing to a deal with right-hander Chase De Jong.

De Jong, 26, was a second round draft pick of the Blue Jays back in 2012 but was traded a couple of times before reaching the majors. He finally broke through in 2017 with the Mariners, making four starts and three relief appearances in his debut season. He was 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in 28.1 innings that year.

Seattle traded him to Minnesota at the 2018 trade deadline, and De Jong would make four starts for the Twins, going 1-1 with a 3.57 ERA. He made only one major league appearance in 2019 in which he coughed up four runs in just one inning of relief work, and he also struggled to a 9.73 ERA in 45.1 innings at Triple-A.

De Jong relies on four pitches, with his four-seam fastball being the most-utilized. It’s also been his least effective pitch, however, and the velocity in 2017 and 2018 averaged less than 90 mph. However, he said he threw with a weighted baseball in the offseason and has seen his velocity sitting in the 92-94 mph range with the Skeeters.

He also features a slider, curveball and changeup, with the slider and change having had some effectiveness in the past. We’ll have to see if pitching coach Brent Strom can give him some tutelage, as his spin rates are quite below average. Assuming he passes his physical and COVID-19 screening, he’ll report to the team’s alternate site in Corpus Christi.

De Jong’s Outlook

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I wouldn’t expect to see De Jong in the majors in the immediate future. Fellow newcomers Rodney and Hector Velazquez would probably be called up before De Jong, and it would take further injuries for things to get that far. It’s always possible given the way this season has gone, of course, but for now he’s mainly there to provide additional depth.

Should he be called upon, the Astros could utilize him in the rotation or the bullpen. De Jong has been starting for the Skeeters so he’s presumably stretched out enough to go several innings. If the injury woes continue to pile up to the extent that he’s needed, then his ability to soak up some innings would be highly beneficial.

For now, the Astros are hoping they’ll get some of their missing pieces back soon. Austin Pruitt, Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski are hopefully on the mend, though we don’t know much about what’s ailing Roberto Osuna. Ryan Pressly should be available this week, and several rookies have stepped up to provide meaningful innings, most notably Blake Taylor.

Still, credit GM James Click for continuing to keep an eye out for potential acquisitions. With pitchers dropping like flies, the Astros don’t want to find themselves in a situation where they literally run out of pitchers. In a crazy season like this, who knows what’ll happen.

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