The Houston Astros took a second blow to the starting rotation Monday with Jake Odorizzi leaving Fenway Park on a stretcher following the fifth inning. The right-hander made an attempt to cover first base on a grounder to Yuli Gurriel, leading to him holding his left leg in pain.
Prior to play following the rain delay, the Astros announced Odorizzi exited with left lower leg discomfort. With the club’s recent success and Odorizzi coming into his own, the rotation takes its second blow with Lance McCullers Jr. already on the 60-day injured list.
Jake Odorizzi will likely hit the injured list, but how will the Astros respond?
The Astros may revert to a five-man rotation on the backend of 33 games in 34 days, while the rotation adjusted following the Minnesota Twins’ series last week. Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia are scheduled for the next two games in Boston, while Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier and a ramped Justin Verlander will follow at home.
The next off day comes May 26, while six games separate the Astros from their following off day June 2. In that time, a spot start seems probable, paving a path for an experienced starter to take the reins for one turn in a six-man rotation.
Triple-A options include Peter Solomon and Brandon Bielak — two arms with major-league experience. The following competition isn’t tough either with the .500 Texas Rangers and neighboring .500 Cleveland Guardians visiting Minute Maid Park.
Bielak, who took a no-hitter into the fifth inning with the Sugar Land Space Cowboys last week — has a 2.36 ERA over 26.2 innings this season. Although not a high-leverage arm in the Majors, Bielak offers a buffer of rest for the rotation and the bullpen, if he can eclipse five innings in a spot start.
The final option the Astros could take early would be exploring the trade market. While McCullers’ return is expected and nothing more is known about Odorizzi, the front office should not jump the gun this early into the season and rather give itself time to evaluate buyers and sellers by July.
While the anticipation is Odorizzi hits the shelf before Tuesday’s contest, Seth Martinez could be activated from the taxi squad, shifting the bullpen to eight.