Astros could go back to six-man rotation with Jose Urquidy

Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

Jose Urquidy hasn’t hit the bump for the Houston Astros since June 29, when he exited his start with shoulder discomfort, while his inevitable return to the team was also delayed by a platelet rich plasma shot in his shoulder. This injury led to his second stint on the injured list this season, as the right-hander is now taking the mound for five innings or 70 pitches for the Sugar Land Skeeters on Tuesday as a part of his rehab assignment.

Urquidy began his rehab assignment earlier this week with the FCL Astros, where he tossed three shutout innings with six punch outs and one hit allowed. This performance was then evaluated further with a bullpen session at Minute Maid Park on Sunday.

The right-hander will throw again next Sunday, August 29, then possibly be activated, which comes a few days before rosters expand to 28 players. If the Astros do wait out to activate Urquidy, then they will not have to option anyone come September 1.

With Jose Urquidy returning, the Astros could turn to a six-man rotation for the month of September.

An important discussion has been reoccurring across Astros’ fans social media pages and blogs over the past season, as the organization has had six quality starters at disposal. With Cristian Javier already pushed to the bullpen, Urquidy’s return leaves the Astros with Lance McCullers Jr., Zack Greinke, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia and Jake Odorizzi following.

McCullers, Greinke and Valdez are the most likely to stay in the rotation for the remainder of the season and possible postseason, but Urquidy’s activation could push either Garcia or Odorizzi to the bullpen.

At this point in the season, Odorizzi’s larger contract shouldn’t be the reason he stays in the rotation over Garcia, as his peripherals correlate to his 4.52 ERA. While Garcia’s pitch count has been limited to less than 100 pitches for all his appearances this season excluding two, the right-hander has a few quality outings under his belt in his rookie campaign, as his ERA sits at 3.39 on the season.

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Odorizzi hasn’t been as pitch efficient. While tossing a one-run outing on Saturday, his pitch count climbed to 100 through 5.2 innings. The right-hander hasn’t eaten the innings as desired, but he or Garcia will likely see more time out of the bullpen once October roles around.

Call-ups are a given in September, so the Astros bringing in pitchers like Peter Solomon or Brandon Bielak to take spot starts during the month is beneficial. It would be behoove the front office to option them after the game, as many teams do this to have players take rest days at the minor-league level which saves money and also adds another fresh arm to the mix as a corresponding move.

A six-man rotation would be advantageous to analyze the state of the pitching staff entering October, while also offering starts to call-ups with a 17-game stretch without an off day.

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