Once top prospect Forrest Whitley suffered another shoulder injury his last time out. This news is unfortunate for a muiltitude of reasons, one of which is that Whitley appeared to finally be knocking on the door of making his big league debut.
Astros GM Dana Brown said on SportsTalk790 that they were really hoping to see Whitley with the big league club this season and that they were really considering making Whitley a member of the six-man rotation.
With 17 games over 17 days, we may very well see the Astros go to a six-man rotation to help navigate this stretch of games with no days off. So if it's not Whitley, who will it be?
Really Ronel Blanco is the only option left on the table. Blanco made the Opening Day roster after a dominant offseason and Spring Training, but struggled in his initial stint with the big league club.
Blanco made nine appearances with the Astros, posting a 4.50 ERA and 1.92 WHIP in 16 innings of work. He was optioned to Sugar Land on May 6 after José Urquidy and Luis Garcia went down on back-to-back nights. The plan was to stretch Blanco into a starter.
Blanco has made four appearances in Sugar Land since being sent down, starting two of the four games. Across 16 innings of work, Blanco has struck out 21 while allowing only five hits, posting a 0.56 ERA. Walks are still a bit problematic, as he is walking 7.3 per nine.
Blanco has completed 10.1 innings of work in his two starts, striking out 16 and walking only five. While a very small sample size, Blanco has been more effective starting than he has coming out of the bullpen. Maybe he would be more effective with the Astros as a starter than as a reliever.
Is Blanco the Astros next man up in a six-man rotation? Or is he nothing more than a AAAA player--too good for the minors but not good enough to cut it in the big leagues?