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2019 Rotation: The Case for Collin McHugh

As everyone knows, there’s a potentially large gap in the starting rotation next year with Lance McCuller’s potential surgery and Dallas Keuchel / Charlie Morton both entering Free Agency.

Everyone loves a new shiny object, and it’s exciting to imagine someone like a Clayton Kershaw if he opts out in an Astros uniform. And while we will of course analyze the free agent market, the staff discussed analyzing the current Astros players to see if any of them potentially slide in.

Of course, I wanted to present an argument for McHugh. I’ll admit, I’m biased, I still think Collin McHugh is the most underrated player on the Astros.

Why Collin? Well since being picked up out of the trash pile by Jeff Luhnow, he simply has been one of the greatest pitchers in baseball.

Don’t believe me?

Since 2014 when Collin joined the Astros his pitching line has been as follows:

McHugh 54-30, 3.51 ERA, 678 IP with 8.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 - 3.50 FIP

Let’s compare that to the 3 players who may be exiting the rotation’s tenure with the Astros:

Morton - 29-10, 3.36 ERA, 313.2 IP with 10.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 - 3.53 FIP

Keuchel - 76-63, 3.66 ERA, 1,189 IP with 7.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 - 3.72 FIP

McCullers - 29-22, 3.67 ERA in 453 IP with 10.1 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 - 3.24 FIP

Looking at those stats, I don’t see a significant fall off from any of the 3 we are losing. But let’s take it one step further. The BB/9 is especially of note, look at that control!

Since 2014, here is where Collin McHugh’s stats rank against all SP in baseball since 2014 with 600+ IP

WAR - 12.3 (29th)

K/BB - 3.50 (21)

ERA - 3.51 (22nd)

FIP - 3.50 (18th)

xFIP - 3.78 (25th)

SIERA - 3.67 (18th)

If you go under the belief that there are 30 aces - based on 1 per team (I know there are differing opinions on what Ace means), he qualifies. He’s a #1 on most teams in baseball, and we’re questioning if we should add him to the back of our rotation?!

Collin has continued to evolve during his time with the Astros. In 2016, Fangraphs doesn’t have a registered pitch speed or value on his slider due to how infrequently he threw it. In 2018, it was his best pitch, clocking in with a pitch value of 9.6 - one of the best in the league, to go with his insanely high spinning curveball.

Collin’s swinging strike percentage / K% has consistently improved

2015 - 10.3% / 19.9%

2016 - 10.7% / 22.2%

2017 - 12.4% / 22.9%

2018 - 13.3% / 33.2%

The only counter argument I could see is that he was an insanely valuable part of the bullpen. And while I agree, both the Free Agent pool, and internal options provide a significantly better value in the bullpen.

Tell me your thoughts and arguments against this ace being added back to our rotation.



Does McHugh make your 2019 Starting Rotation?

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  • 92%
    (395 votes)
  • 7%
    (30 votes)
425 votes total Vote Now