Astros sign former Brewers standout to help ailing pitching staff

This will help give the Astros rotation a boost.
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Eric Lauer
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Eric Lauer / John Fisher/GettyImages

The Houston Astros have been struck by the injury bug early and often this season. The Astros starting rotation, more than any other aspect of this year's team, has been hit the hardest.

The Astros have seen Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, and Cristian Javier all spend time on the injured list so far this season. Not to mention that Houston has been without Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. since the season began.

The Astros made a small move on Monday to bolster the starting rotation amid all the injuries. Houston agreed to terms with veteran left-hander Eric Lauer on a major league contract. The deal includes opt outs on July 1 and August 1 and will pay the southpaw a base salary of $1.5 million if he makes the major league roster. Lauer has been assigned to Triple-A Sugar Land to start his tenure with the Astros organization.

Astros sign former Brewers standout Eric Lauer to help ailing pitching staff

Lauer was longtime member of the Milwaukee Brewers. The 29-year-old went 4-6 last season in 10 appearances for the Brew Crew and owned a 6.56 ERA. After the season ended, the Brewers outrighted Lauer to the minor leagues, but the veteran refused the assignment and entered free agency.

Lauer latched on with another NL Central squad this past offseason after coming to terms on a minor-league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lauer was never called up to the big leagues and exercised his opt-out clause with the Bucs last week. In eight appearances for the Pirates Triple-A affiliate earlier this season, Lauer racked up 37 punch outs in just under 30 innings pitched.

But his value lies in what he was able to produce in 2021 and 2022. Lauer made 20 or more starts in each of those seasons and maintained a respectable ERA (3.19 in 2021 and 3.69 in 2022). He also averaged nine strikeouts per nine innings and limited walks (1.3 BB/9).

Lauer will have to prove himself at Triple-A before getting his chance with the Astros. But given the early-season struggles of Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti, it wouldn't be shocking to see Lauer get his chance sooner rather than later.

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