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A case for Jose Urquidy starting in the postseason

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What else is there?

Houston Astros v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Following the excitement of the trade deadline, the Astros probable postseason rotation looked to be Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Zack Grienke, and Wade Miley. All four pitchers, by the overall numbers, had positive seasons. Some more than others, yes, but still something worth writing about. However, one of those pitchers had a rather tumultuous September.

Wade Miley in September 2019

Date Opp IP TBF H R ER HR BB SO BABIP ERA FIP
Date Opp IP TBF H R ER HR BB SO BABIP ERA FIP
9/26/19 @LAA 4 19 5 3 3 0 2 2 0.333 6.75 3.71
9/21/19 LAA 1 9 4 4 4 1 1 0 0.500 36.00 22.21
9/15/19 @KCR 6 26 7 2 2 0 2 4 0.350 3.00 2.88
9/10/19 OAK 0.1 9 7 7 7 0 1 0 0.875 189.00 12.21
9/5/19 SEA 0 6 5 5 5 1 1 0 1.000 45.00 19.21

In five September starts, Miley allowed 21 earned runs in only 11 13 innings. He also failed to escape the first inning in two of those five starts. The only start in which he looked somewhat reliable came against the Royals, who had an 84 wRC+ on the season, which is 16 percent worse than league average (100). Only the Giants (83), Marlins (79), and Tigers (77) had a lower wRC+ in 2019. So, yeah, Miley didn’t exactly shut down Murderer’s Row that day.

At this juncture, I’d doubt we see Miley start a game in the postseason. If he did, then it would be with an extremely short leash. But this post isn’t about Miley, although his inclusion was needed. Instead, I want to make a case why Jose Urquidy, an age-24 right-hander, should receive a start in the postseason, if it is required.

“So, why a pitcher with only 41 major league innings?”

“Also, wasn’t he suppose to be on a innings limit following his recovery from Tommy John surgery?”

To the latter question, yes, he was to be on a innings count this year. As indicated here by Brian McTaggart of MLB.com earlier in September, the Astros did think about shutting Urquidy down. But if there was such a limit, the young right-hander has way passed that mark with a combined 144 innings pitched this season between the minors and majors.

In regard to the first question, it is Urquidy’s recent performance in September that ought to put him in the conversation for a prominent role in the postseason.

Jose Urquidy in September 2019

Date Opp IP TBF H R ER HR BB SO BABIP ERA FIP
Date Opp IP TBF H R ER HR BB SO BABIP ERA FIP
9/27/19 @LAA 6 20 3 0 0 0 1 2 0.176 0.00 3.05
9/21/19 LAA 3 13 4 1 1 0 0 4 0.444 3.00 0.55
9/11/19 OAK 5 17 1 1 1 1 1 10 0.000 1.80 2.41
9/5/19 SEA 4 15 2 1 1 1 1 0 0.077 2.25 7.21

In stark contrast to Miley’s performance last month, Urquidy posted a 1.50 ERA and 3.38 FIP in 18 innings pitched. His last start, in particular, against the Angels stood out, but it helpful to remember they were missing Mike Trout, Justin Upton, and Shohei Ohtani from their lineup. If we go back to a couple of weeks, Urquidy did hold the A’s, a fellow payoff team, to just one earned run in five innings while striking out ten. While his other two appearances that month came as a reliever, both in relief of Miley, Urquidy did enough to set himself apart. If he can pitch like he did in his last 18 regular season innings in the postseason, then the Astros chances of advancing would likely increase.

There is a reason for concern on this front, though. For one, we do know that Urquidy is in uncharted territory when it comes to his inning/pitch limit. Personally, I think a pitch limit is probably a more efficient way of measuring these things, but it doesn’t really matter right now. The point remains that he is beyond the plan on both the pitch and inning front. Plus, we’re talking about a pitcher who has only made seven major league appearances, or 41 innings, during his professional career. The postseason is another beast when compared to the regular season, even though Urquidy has shown he can generate outs at the big league level.

To summarize, Urquidy should start a possible Game 4 in the upcoming ALDS. It is also possible that he is used in a bullpen game, but the hope would likely be Urquidy provides three-to-five quality innings. I would be perfectly fine with that, too. Maybe it is nostalgia or the pizza I had last night, but I have a feeling in my gut that Urquidy might be the 2019 equivalent of Brandon Backe in the 2004 postseason. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind that one bit.