Astros Call Up J.P. France to Join Starting Rotation Saturday
By Alec Brown
The Astros starting rotation has been depleted over the last week. In back-to-back starts, Houston lost José Urquidy and Luis Garcia to the 15-day IL. They dodged a bullet with Urquidy looking like just a bout with inflammation, but a prognosis is not yet known for Garcia.
In light of Garcia's injury, Houston has decided to call up starting pitcher J.P. France.
France is a 14th round draft pick who played his college ball at both Tulane and Mississipi State. His stuff more than plays, but he does battle some control issues.
In the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, France has performed quite well over the last three seasons. The 28-year-old had a 3.64 ERA in AAA, far below the league average. France has been great this season in particular, recording a 2.33 ERA over his five appearances. The league average ERA this season is a wildly high 5.85. France is yet to allow a home run in his 19.1 innings of work in the home run happy league.
He strikes out 12.1 batters per nine, but issues 5.1 walks per nine. His deceptive delivery keeps batters off-balance, but he needs to cut down on free passes to stick with the big-league club.
France will make his MLB debut on Saturday, starting on the road against a division foe in Seattle.
As of yet, a corresponding move is not known. It would not be a surprise if Houston uses one of Ronel Blanco's options amidst his struggles in the bigs, but the most sensical move would be to send down third-string catcher César Salazar. The catcher has only seven at-bats on the season, and with Dusty Baker's outright refusal to play Yainer Diaz at DH, Houston can't afford to continue carrying three catchers with injuries impacting both the everyday lineup and starting rotation.