Astros: Jose Urquidy making case for playoff rotation

HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 15: Jose Urquidy #65 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park on September 15, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 15: Jose Urquidy #65 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park on September 15, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Jose Urquidy is making a case to be part of the Houston Astros rotation in the playoffs.

The Houston Astros still have about a week and a half to figure out how their pitching staff is going to look for the playoffs, and we’re confident they’ll be playing in October. But one thing to monitor is the fact that Jose Urquidy is making a case to be part of the team’s starting rotation during the postseason.

Urquidy missed most of the season after contracting COVID-19, but he’s been impressive since his return. He’s pitched to a 2.70 ERA and sterling 0.900 WHIP over his three starts, including his latest outing in which he allowed one run over seven innings against the Rangers. In 16.2 innings, he’s allowed only nine hits.

He’s sufficiently built up now as well, throwing 88 and 90 pitches in his last two starts, respectively. He should be able to hit the century mark before the playoffs begin, so there are unlikely to be any issues with his ability to give the team a full start as long as he stays healthy. And if he keeps pitching well, he could force Dusty Baker’s hand.

Rotation Still Unclear

Lance McCullers looked great in his return to the mound on Wednesday, and Justin Verlander is aiming to return to the rotation for the playoffs as well. Zack Greinke is certainly going to be there, and Framber Valdez has pitched well for the most part. If he can right the ship after a couple of poor outings, he’ll have a legitimate claim to a spot in the playoff rotation also.

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As we examined recently, the postseason schedule is going to present some problems for the Astros when it comes to their pitching depth. They’ll only need three starters for the Wild Card round, but if they advance, it’s likely they’ll need five different starters in the Division Series due to the lack of off days.

If Verlander, Greinke and McCullers are all in good shape, they’ll most likely be the starters in the Wild Card round. But after that, you’d have to think Urquidy is putting himself in a position to be the next man up. Valdez is in that mix as well, and it looks like Cristian Javier may be in the bullpen, which would be a huge boost to a struggling relief corps.

If his performance continues to impress, Urquidy would almost certainly be the next man up for the Astros, meaning he could take the place of Verlander, Greinke or McCullers if one of them can’t go in the Wild Card round. If the team advances, he would almost certainly get a start in that next series. Considering how he threw five scoreless innings in his World Series start last year, the Astros should be pretty comfortable giving him the ball.

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