The Houston Astros are in a strong position regarding starter options to open the 2022 season, whenever that happens. With Lance McCullers Jr. and Justin Verlander returning from injury, innings restrictions could be in-place, leading to more piggyback options or six-man rotations.
With a loaded 40-man roster, the Astros are good on pitchers, especially arms with minor-league options, but there are players that could easily be removed if necessary.
If the Astros pursue more options to bolster the bullpen, there are cheap pitchers on the market, once major-league discussions start with a new collective bargaining agreement.
Free-agent starter Matthew Boyd could be a prove-it deal the Astros could match.
Boyd has spent his whole major-league career with the Detroit Tigers, a team on the rise in the American League Central, excluding a half season with the Toronto Blue Jays, but the left-hander hasn’t had a season with an ERA lower than 3.89 in his seven-year career.
Although posting a 3.89 ERA in 2021, Boyd had his best statistical season yet. The 31-year-old has struggled with home runs and high strikeout-rates in his past, but the next step for Boyd could be in the bullpen.
The Astros have only three lefties on the roster with Brooks Raley signing with the Tampa Bay Rays. Of bullpen options, Blake Taylor and Jonathan Bermudez are the only two lefties, while Bermudez was added this offseason and has yet to make his major-league debut.
Boyd’s addition adds another lefty to the mix, while he is extra rotation depth with major-league experience which was lacking in 2021. The left-hander lives by soft contact similar to Raley and could hone his high-spin rate with the Astros.