Astros: Who falls to the bullpen when Lance McCullers Jr. returns?

After Luis Garcia’s dominant performance in Buffalo, it was reported that the right-hander left the game due to an illness. While being day to day, Garcia still stands as a top three starter for the Houston Astros.

Here comes the issue: Lance McCullers Jr. is nearing his rehab start in the minor leagues, which would leave six possible starters for the rotation. Cristian Javier has already been dealt to the bullpen, but as McCullers is an established starter, who falls in his return?

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With Luis Garcia excelling, who falls to the bullpen in a five-man rotation?

We can go on-and-on about who McCullers will replace on the roster once he returns, but that’s another topic for another time. Although his return is anticipated for Mid-June, the Astros are in a tricky situation of keeping every arm in line.

There isn’t much more to Garcia’s sickness that we know, so if he stays away from the injured list, then either him, Jake Odorizzi or Jose Urquidy would fall to the bullpen in a traditional five-man rotation. If the Astros go to six, then this won’t be something worth dissecting, but for now, Houston hasn’t gone over the five-man threshold under the reign of manager Dusty Baker; they have actually fallen to a four-man rotation rather than going up in arms.

The Astros have gone over the traditional 13 arms before for rest help plus the advantages of more options, but at this point in the season without Aledmys Diaz, the bench should stay the same in numbers of depth.

McCullers and Odorizzi’s contracts don’t stand as the somewhat thought of money when discussing relievers, but for Odorizzi, he is most likely the odd man out. Zack Greinke, Framber Valdez and McCullers are automatic locks for the rotation.

In Odorizzi’s case, he was signed late, had a delayed start to the season and is recovering from an injury in his recent return. Although signed to eat innings, the right-hander’s contract doesn’t look to be benefitting the team in the end, but the front office didn’t know Valdez would recover like he did.

The right-hander has a 7.16 ERA through 16.1 innings this season, and with Garcia establishing All-Star numbers, Odorizzi could fall to the bullpen to get his numbers down. Odorizzi and Javier benefit the bullpen with their ability to piggyback starters and rest other short-inning arms.

We have to tune out the idea of not putting such a high paid arm in the bullpen and take a look at what benefits the team right now. In another case, Urquidy could have a short stint in the bullpen, as throwing strikes are hurting him.

Injuries will come and go, so at some point in this season, the rotation has the possibility of changing again. There are a multitude of switches we could see, and if it comes down to numbers, Odorizzi falls to the bullpen. In the eyes of career success and lack of experience, Garcia would be a reliever, even with his a sub-3.00 ERA.