JP France's latest outing all but officially sealed his fate in Astros rotation

JP France's time is (almost) up.
Houston Astros pitcher J.P. France
Houston Astros pitcher J.P. France / Tim Warner/GettyImages

Astros fans are beginning to wonder when the madness will end. JP France struck out six batters on Tuesday night in Chicago, but that was after he gave up five runs in the first inning. While some Houston fans are trying to see the positives, you're not going to find many when your starter gives up five runs and walks four batters.

While the Astros have been pleasantly surprised with the contributions from Ronel Blanco this season, they've been equally disappointed with France's outings. Houston has now seen France start five games. The right-hander owns a 7.46 ERA with 31 hits allowed through 25.1 innings of work.

Thankfully there is hope. Astros starter Framber Valdez threw a bullpen session on Saturday, and it appears as though the left-hander could return to Houston's rotation as soon as this weekend. Tuesday's outing may have been France's last for quite some time.

JP France's latest outing all but officially sealed his fate in Astros rotation

Valdez has been on the injured list since early April when the southpaw was reportedly suffering from elbow inflammation. Given the abundance of pitcher injuries this season, the Astros proceeded with extreme caution. But no structural damage was observed, and it now appears as though Valdez could join the Astros in Mexico City this weekend.

Spencer Arighetti is the Astros probable starter for Wednesday's game against the Chicago Cubs, and Justin Verlander will be on the mound for the series finale at Wrigley Field on Thursday. France is in line to start Sunday's game agains the Colorado Rockies. But if Valdez returns from the IL, it's quite likely that France will be sent back to Triple-A Sugar Land before the team makes the trip south of border.

France isn't the only starter who's struggled this season. While Hunter Brown has scuffled at times, the right-hander has pitched well enough the past two times he's toed the rubber. Arrighetti could always fall victim if he struggles against Chicago's bats Wednesday, but France may need a trip back to the minors in order to fix some lingering issues.

France is striking out less than 20% of the batters he's faced this season and his fastball has been getting tattooed by the opposition. It's time for a tune-up, and if Valdez comes off the IL this weekend, look for the Astros to bid farewell to France for the time being.

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