Astros: 2 pitchers we might see later rather than sooner

The Houston Astros are continuing to evaluate the statuses of their injured pitchers on their 40-man roster. With the bullpen continuing to change, there are a few names making us wonder what their timetables look like.

As Jake Odorizzi, Framber Valdez and Enoli Paredes are all expected to return by June, this leaves a few question marks around the timetables of Blake Taylor and Pedro Baez. Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reported that the two relievers are throwing on flat ground but are far from returning to the mound for the Astros.

With Blake Taylor and Pedro Baez not nearing a return, who fills their void?

Firstly, there are three other pitchers that no one is certain on their returns. As Josh James is on the 10-day IL and Austin Pruitt and Justin Verlander are the on 60-day IL, these three right-handers have had their respected chatter about working back to normalcy but an unknown return date circles them.

As the 60-day IL doesn’t count against the 40-man roster, the returns of Pruitt and Verlander will be interesting in the sense of making space through trades or DFAs. Taylor and Baez were designated as options to start the season in the major leagues with the team, but as Taylor is the only one with options, the left-hander looked to have made a name for himself in his rookie campaign of 2020.

Blake Taylor

While players will have to stay on their designated injured list for the number tacked onto it, Blake Taylor has gone over his 10-day threshold since he was placed on it on April 17. The left-hander can stay as long as he needs on the injured list until he is ready to return, and while throwing off flat ground, it doesn’t seem like his right ankle sprain will move him to the 60-day. Through 5.1 innings of work, Taylor has tossed a 6.75 ERA with two home runs surrendered.

Manager Dusty Baker has been the opposite of A.J. Hinch when carrying left-handers in their bullpens, as Baker has liked to carry two throughout the season. That being said, Kent Emanuel has excelled in his replacement, and while being able to go longer outings, the left-hander could stick around if the teams moves on from the struggling Brooks Raley.

Pedro Baez

While COVID-19 issues circled the clubhouse in the middle of spring training, Pedro Baez was the name tacked onto it, as he was the only player to test positive for the virus. Since then, the right-hander had a delayed start to the season. Baez’s quick progressions might’ve been pushing his limits, as he hit the 10-day IL on April 10 with right-shoulder soreness.

Ramping up can take time, and it is seen in a lot of players injuries early in the season. With Baez hitting the 60-day on April 26 with the same injury, the right-hander’s roster spot was filled by Emanuel. Baez will be out for two months, before he can be brought back to the roster, and although he’s never pitched for the Astros, the right-hander can be closely modeled to Andre Scrubb.

Scrubb has dealt with his own command issues in 2020 and to the start of his delayed 2021 campaign, but in his last four appearances, the right-hander hasn’t allowed a run in 4.2 innings. With a slow approach to the plate, the right-hander is a lot like Baez in this sense and has continued to improve this season.

A fully heathy staff can be hard to come by for a full season, but the Astros have worked their magic before. Valdez and Odorizzi returning from possible season ending injuries is a good sign in the sense of toughness but also the training staff’s ability.