Will Astros start service time clock on Solis or Whitley?

Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Houston Astros were hit with another blow to their 40-man roster, as right-handed prospect Jairo Solis underwent Tommy John surgery. This was expected for Solis, but after undergoing his second TJ surgery in three years, what do the Astros do with his roster spot?

While never playing at the major-league level, Solis sits on the 40-man mainly for protection from the Rule 5 Draft. The 21-year-old made his way to the organization at 17-years-old and has battled three elbow injuries along the way. He hasn’t pitched since 2018 with what was the Class-A affiliate at the time.

The pitching staff has taken the most blows this season, and while Solis wasn’t eyed as a key contributor down the stretch, could he or Forrest Whitley possibly help free open a roster spot? The two are actually on their own 60-day injured list, while it is attached to the minor leagues, but if they move off the 40-man roster and onto the major league 60-day IL, it starts their service clock.

This can come back to haunt the Astros, if these two arms end up panning out as pricy talent. But with a World Series trophy up for grabs, we can only hope it doesn’t come to this. Both pitchers can’t be moved off the 40-man rotation without being subject to waivers or service time, so it comes down to they burn two roster spots or their service clocks start. In all likelihood, they will stay on the 40-man roster, because it benefits the future of the team as a whole.

So what about the current 60-day IL pitchers?

As Kent Emanuel avoided TJ surgery, the left-hander was still moved to the 60-day IL for the return of Kyle Tucker. At the moment, only Tyler Ivey, who will most likely miss the remainder of the season, is in contention for the 60-day. The right-hander already started his service time clock with his debut and would move for the return of a bullpen arm.

The lack of high-leverage arms has plagued the team all season, and a year filled with injuries is expected. In Sugar Land, Austin Pruitt looks to make his way back to MLB for the first time since 2019, but he isn’t making a strong case, after he couldn’t hone in more than one out in his first appearance.

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In Fayetteville with the Low-A Woodpeckers, Josh James has his rehab assignment underway. There are two sides of fans for James, but his ceiling and ability exceeds the current options in the bullpen, plus he does have durability to eat innings if necessary.

And another mystery pitcher in the mix is Pedro Baez, who has been throwing in West Palm Beach. A load of set backs are tacked onto his name, but even off the 60-day IL, Joe Smith, Bryan Abreu and Enoli Paredes will come into the mix within the next two weeks.

For these three 60-day pitchers’ returns, three roster spots have to open up. One could easily be Ivey, another could be Francis Martes but the third one will be a tossup. Starting the service time clocks of Solis and Whitley could be an option, but it wouldn’t benefit the team down the road. We can only hope Justin Verlander returns late in the season, and at this point, it is smart to anticipate trades or DFAs.

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There was good news on the farm, as outfielder Alex McKenna and third baseman Joe Perez were both promoted to Double-A. The new Corpus Christi Hooks got even better, as these dark horse prospects have been talked highly about by front office members.

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