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Astros: Jose Urquidy could return to rotation this weekend

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 08: Jose Urquidy #65 of the Houston Astros in action against the New York Mets during a spring training baseball game at Clover Park on March 8, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Mets defeated the Astros 3-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 08: Jose Urquidy #65 of the Houston Astros in action against the New York Mets during a spring training baseball game at Clover Park on March 8, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Mets defeated the Astros 3-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Houston Astros pitcher Jose Urquidy could return to the rotation this weekend.

The Houston Astros starting rotation could get a nice boost soon in the form of Jose Urquidy. Manager Dusty Baker said on Wednesday that Urquidy is on his way to Houston to throw a bullpen session and is penciled in to start one game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Angels.

The Astros are certainly going to need an additional starter or two on the upcoming road trip. They are scheduled to play two doubleheaders — Saturday against the Angels and Tuesday against the A’s. Without a day off in between, the team’s pitching depth is really going to be tested.

So Urquidy’s return looks to be coming at an opportune time for the team. He acquitted himself well in his first taste of big league action in 2019, pitching to a 3.95 ERA in seven starts and two relief appearances. He put an exclamation point on his season by tossing five scoreless frames in his start in Game Four of the World Series.

Urquidy was penciled in as the team’s fourth starter coming into this season, but he’s been on the shelf due to an undisclosed issue. He’s been pitching at the alternate site in Corpus Christi and most recently threw 50 pitches in an outing, so he’s certainly close to being built up as a starter.

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One would presume he would take Brandon Bielak’s place in the rotation, though with the schedule being what it is, both are likely to be needed over the next week. Once the Astros finish their series in Oakland, they’ll be able to get the rotation lined back up to a five-man group, so this in essence could be an audition for both Urquidy and Bielak.

The team would probably like to have Urquidy in the rotation thanks to his postseason experience, which other players like Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier and Bielak don’t have. They can’t expect to just go with Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. in the playoffs, so they’ll need someone to step up, and Urquidy is as close to a veteran as they have.

He’s got a few weeks to show the team he’s ready, so all eyes will be on Urquidy as the remainder of the season progresses. The Astros are all but guaranteed a playoff spot, so the focus now has to be on getting the roster ready to make a postseason push.

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