The 2015 season just keeps getting wilder, folks. Are we having fun yet?
In less than the span of one full month, the Astros have announced promotions for Lance McCullers jr., Michael Feliz, and now Vincent Velasquez, none of whom have thrown a single pitch for a AAA club.
Velazquez has the potential to dominate as well as any pitcher in the entire system at this point. He shredded the AA Texas League in his five starts there, posting a 1.37 ERA and a 12.65 K/9 during those games. He brings mid-90's heat and a devastating change-up to the table, and could certainly get Major League hitters out in a relief role immediately. But progress appears to have been made on his breaking ball this season, too, and the Astros want to see him start. McCullers has seemingly locked himself pretty firmly into a starting job with the Big League club thanks to his surprisingly-impressive performance, and Velasquez may have a similar opportunity in front of him.
Though the particulars remain a mystery at this point, the impetus seems clear; Roberto Hernandez has been roughed up in recent outings after starting the year off solidly, Scott Feldman is on the disabled list, Brett Oberholtzer was bad in Toronto and may still be dealing with blister issues, and Colin McHugh hasn't been as dominant as he was in 2014. The Astros need help in the rotation, that much is clear, especially considering their lead in the AL West has dwindled to just 3.5 games as of this morning.
What remains unclear is how the roster will be sorted out by game time. The Astros already needed to clear space on the 40-man roster for Correa, but now they'll have to kick someone off the 25-man for Velasquez as well. Velasquez is on the 40-man already, having been protected from the Rule 5 draft in the off-season. With Jake Buchanan moved off the team last night to make room for Correa, the Astros could move Hernandez to the bullpen to serve as the long man, and perhaps one of Jonathan Villar and Marwin Gonzalez could be parted with to free up the 25-man spot for Velasquez.
Update: Brian McTaggart is reporting that Hernandez will indeed move to the bullpen to accommodate Velasquez in the rotation.