The Astros rotation is eyeing some reinforcement with Jose Urquidy starting his rehab assignment.
Urquidy will have up to 30 days to complete his assignment, and hopefully after a few strong starts, he will be back before mid-September. His return would spark a few changes and would greatly upgrade the Astros pitching depth chart.
Urquidy averaged just under six innings a start, not counting his last appearance, which landed him on the injured list. His quality starts, coupled with his 3.38 ERA, gives the Astros quite a huge advantage against quality opponents, especially compared to Jake Odorizzi, who has averaged less than five innings per start since July, with a 5.34 ERA.
If Urquidy can return by the Texas’ series on September 13th, he would finish with four starts and boost the Astros’ chances of reaching 100 wins and the division title. Having him start in place of Odorizzi in the current rotation would slate him for starts against Arizona, Tampa Bay, Texas and Los Angeles (AL). The right-hander could potentially add a fifth or sixth start against Seattle, if his rehab goes off flawlessly and there are no delays.
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Urquidy has currently been on track with his rehab, progressing through what would be a normal pitching routine between starts, just more spread out. As reported by CBS Sports, Urquidy has tossed a bullpen, live batting practice and finally tossing a two-inning simulated game.
Next up will be his rehab starts prior to him joining the club next month, as said above with an unknown timeline for his exact return to the big leagues, as it hinges on the result of his starts and his comfort level.
Lastly, the question remains what happens with Odorizzi? He could easily fit into the long relief role out of the pen if one of the starters is having an off day or potentially be a sixth starter and give some rest to the veterans down the stretch on an as needed basis. He could easily give two-to-four innings of long relief as needed and give Baker options in the pen against tougher teams like Tampa Bay.
With that said, Urquidy will have a lasting impact upon his return, especially with his postseason ERA of 2.81 in four starts spread over the course of two seasons. His experienced leadership along with the likes of Greinke and McCullers gives the Astros a solid post season rotation with plenty of playoff innings under their collective belts.