This former top Astros prospect is pitching himself into being a trade deadline chip

Could Houston finally turn their former top prospect into something of value ahead of the trade deadline?
Atlanta Braves v Houston Astros
Atlanta Braves v Houston Astros / Logan Riely/GettyImages
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By now, Houston Astros fans who have followed the team for any appreciable amount of time are aware of Forrest Whitley's story. At one time, he was one of the absolute best pitching prospects in all of baseball and was getting tons of press as the next big thing. However, things took a turn for the worse after a PED suspension in 2018 and Tommy John surgery in 2021.

Coming into this season, Whitley was fighting just to get any sort of chance at the big leagues. Gone are the days when he was a surefire starter, and Houston committed to trying him in the bullpen this season. Unfortunately, more elbow troubles this spring ended his initial chance to carve out a role as a reliever short.

However, Whitley appears to have finally put his arm troubles behind him. With the Astros bullpen in a pretty good spot (more on that in a bit), could Whitley's turnaround end up with him being on the trading block?

Forrest Whitley's recovery could force the Astros' hand at the trade deadline

According to everything we know right now, Whitley is looking like the guy that created buzz this spring as a potential high upside reliever. He is healthy again and his fastball is back in the upper 90s like it was before the injury. For a Houston organization that has been desperate for good pitching news, Whitley's recovery has been a nice silver lining.

However, there are those that think that Whitley missed his opportunity already. The backend of the Astros' bullpen is pretty entrenched at the moment and anyone that thinks Whitley can hold up to a starter's workload probably has their life savings tied up in Blockbuster stock and doge coin.

There is an argument that Whitley should be considered a trade chip at this point. The Astros have clear needs they want to address at the trade deadline and, fair or not, Whitley can't really be relied upon to stay healthy in an important role. Including him in a trade to a team that can afford to gamble on his upside for a more reliable starter or bullpen piece could work, especially if there is a prospective trade partner that really buys Whitley's performance lately.

The best bet honestly that the Astros hang on to Whitley for a while longer, though. While a good portion of the Astros' bullpen isn't going anywhere, there is still room for an arm like Whitley's if he can keep this up. At some point, giving Rafael Montero playing time is going to get worse and worse and, despite his faults, Whitley still has the talent to be a special arm. Betting on that happening may just not be the best idea.

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