The Houston Astros have had a tough week when it comes to starting pitching. With Lance McCullers, Jr. still fighting back from the IL from last season and the departure of Justin Verlander, any more loss in starting pitching is a big blow to the young starting rotation of the defending World Series Champions. This week the Astros got not one, but two hits to the rotation as both Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy are on the IL, with Garcia done for the season with pending Tommy John surgery.
The Astros then made a few moves and rookie starting pitcher J.P. France was called up at the last minute to start Saturday night in Seattle, and he did not disappoint.
J.P. France has been lights out so far this season in AAA Sugar Land going 2-1 over 19.1 innings with a 2.33 ERA. The 28 year old was the Astros 432nd pick of the 2018 draft and has been working his way through the Astros farm system, especially this season, when he was the outright top starting pitcher on the Space Cowboys. France had a difficult draw for his first start, facing the tough division rival the Seattle Mariners in their home park.
France had a rough first inning in Seattle, throwing almost 30 pitches and giving up one hit. France ended the inning striking out two Mariners after loading the bases on a hit and two walks. France exited after pitching five shutout innings for the Astros, putting them in place to take home the victory and France's first big league win, which the Astros bullpen spoiled in the bottom of the 8th, inning giving up 7 runs.
Despite the less than ideal outcome to France's first MLB start, the rookie performed to the best possible conclusion, throwing 84 pitches over 5 innings while walking 2 (1 hit by pitch), and allowing 3 hits while striking out 5. A great start to a hopefully long career for the Astros rookie pitcher as he looks forward to his potential next start in Chicago on May 12th.