It was a surprise to many people when Collin McHugh was moved to the bullpen. After the success in 2018 out of the pen, the Astros hoped that he could rediscover that magic in 2019. He only lasted two appearances out of the bullpen and hasn’t pitched since last Tuesday, May 14th. McHugh warmed up Saturday night to pitch in Boston, but he said his elbow didn’t feel great. They gave him Sunday off which explains why we didn’t see him this weekend as we wondered on Talking Stros.
Before tonight’s game, AJ Hinch said that he and McHugh talked about what the next step was. They agreed to warm up in the ninth inning last night and see if the discomfort was still there. McHugh told Hinch that it didn’t feel right, so they decided to put him on the IL. They will not shut him down, but they will monitor what is going on from this point on. This could be a short stay on the IL, especially since McHugh hasn’t pitched in a week.
It doesn’t appear to be serious, but they want to be careful with McHugh after switching roles. With McHugh going on the IL, the Astros promoted right-hander Brady Rodgers via Chandler Rome, who came back from Tommy John surgery last year. The once hyped prospect has a lot to prove this time.
Rodgers grew up in the Houston area, and he is looking to prove that his first stint in the big leagues was a fluke. In five MLB games, he is 0-1 with a 15.12 ERA with three strikeouts in 8 ⅓ innings pitched. He walked seven batters and allowed 14 runs.
You can imagine why Astros fans are saying, why him?
Is Rogelio Armenteros ever going to get a shot? Armenteros is already on the 40-man roster, but he is not having a great start to the season. To the credit of anyone who pitches in Triple-A, they are now using MLB baseballs that fly out of the yard. Armenteros is 1-4 with a 4.91 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 29 ⅔ innings via MiLB.com. Typically you call up a player if they have performed well, which Rodgers has in 2019.
While Rodgers will have a lot to prove during this stint with the Astros, he has pitched well in Triple-A. He is 4-0 with a 3.22 ERA while striking out 32 hitters in 44 ⅔ innings. Rodgers last pitched on May 14th and gave up three runs in 4 ⅔ innings. He will be used as a reliever with the Astros as Corbin Martin has moved into the rotation.
Forrest Whitley may be the next best thing, but he has gotten off to a terrible start. He is one of those players who could fall into Super 2 status, so they are not going to rush him up yet, he has to earn it.
Sorry it’s late, but half of #Astros fans were probably watching #GOT. Here is this week’s @TalkingStros, we discussed the offense, Tyler White and Yordan Alvarez, and the Super 2 cutoff. Spencer from @CrawfishBoxes joined. https://t.co/SYJHeCaoRf— Eric Huysman (@EricTalksStros) May 20, 2019
Some other possible reasons why Rodgers got the call.
With the Super 2 cutoff rapidly approaches or has already passed, spots on the 40 man roster will be needed. If the Astros make a trade before the June 31st deadline, they could also need a roster spot. The 40-man roster currently sits at 39, and Lance McCullers could be added to the 60 day IL to add another spot. Maybe the Astros want to reward Rodgers for his Triple-A success, but also want to see what he could offer before they made a decision later.
Along those same lines, could the Astros be showcasing him for potential trade partners later? The Astros have quality depth in terms of starting pitching candidates, while some teams are still using openers. No, you couldn’t trade Rodgers for Madison Bumgarner, but he could be a throw-in candidate or part of a smaller package. Either way, they could want Rodgers to show that he is not an AAAA pitcher.
Rodgers himself wants to prove that he belongs. How he adjusts to the reliever role is left to be seen, but McHugh’s injury gives him this chance. The Astros have an 8.5 game lead in the AL West. This is the perfect chance to see what Rodgers can do. This gives a chance for McHugh to get back healthy. Will Rodgers make his 2019 debut tonight? That will depend on the situation.