Let’s face it, fifth starter has pretty much been a hot-mess for the Astros all season.
A number of Astros pitchers have failed to hold down the 5th starter spot. Colin McHugh, Corbin Martin, Framber Valdez, and Jose Urquidy have all made starts in that spot; all have been found wanting. McHugh was solid early allowing two runs or less through his first four starts. After that his pitching went from pretty good to inconsistent. He had only one more start where he allowed three runs or less. Eventually he was moved to the pen, and well, you all know the rest.
Corbin Martin was the next pitcher to aspire to fifth starter, but he didn’t seem to really take hold of the spot. He never pitched better than his debut, when he went five and a third innings, allowing two runs and striking out nine. To be fair, his other starts weren’t atrocious, it just seemed like he ran the pitch count up, or was the victim of some lucky hits. In his five starts he compiled a 5.59 ERA, and a 5.63 xFIP. After his start against Seattle he was sent down and was later placed on the injured list on June 25th. Martin underwent Tommy John surgery July third.
Framber Valdez started four games. He had two great starts where he allowed a combined three runs in 13 total innings. Then he had two horrible outings and was relieved of his starting spot. Urquidy started next, but because he only has two starts, he doesn’t have a large enough sample size to advocate for a change. I’m not really going to advocate for his replacement, however, with Peacock injured, and the fifth starter having a short leash, it may be time for the Astros to acquire a starting pitcher.
Zach Wheeler (NYM)
Wheeler is one of a number of Mets pitchers who could be on the block. The righty from East Paulding high school in Dallas, Georgia has started 18 games for the Mets, allowing around four and a half runs per game, although some of those runs could be attributed to the worst fielding percentage in the national league. His 3.57 FIP places him as the 21st best pitcher in the league. Unfortunately he is a free agent at the end of the season. He may not cost as much as Boyd or Stroman, but with the loss of Martin, and upcoming free agencies of Gerrit Cole, Collin McHugh and others, the team may look at acquiring a pitcher with a few years of team control.
Matt Boyd (DET)
One of the fan’s favorite targets. Boyd enters his second year of arbitration in 2020, which means the Astros would likely have him under team control through 2022. While the team control would be nice, acquiring him would cost a number of top prospects, likely including Kyle Tucker. it’s hard to say if he’d be worth it without knowing the complete package, but he’s been very good this season. He has struck out more batters than everyone not named Scherzer, Sale, Cole, and Verlander, His FIP ranks just ahead of Wheeler at 3.56. Like former Tiger Justin Verlander, Boyd has been susceptible to the home run ball. He’s allowed 19 home runs this season, although he’s not the worst starting pitcher in that category. That Actually belongs to Mike Leake.
Mike Leake (SEA)
Yes, I know, one of these guys is not like the others. Leake is a personal choice of mine. I believe he’s a pitcher the Astros wouldn’t have to give up a bunch for. The problem is that his contract seems a little expensive. He’s owed 15 million next year and 18 million in 2021 as part of a mutual option. In addition, Leake has a full no trade clause. His FIP isn’t far off from his ERA, and as mentioned earlier, he has allowed more home runs than any other qualified starter. The upside is that he’s been able to eat up innings. He hasn’t pitched less than five innings in a game this season. He’s had a few awful starts, but he’s also gone seven or more innings in 6 of his starts. If you don’t like Leake, just remember the Astro who had the most starts in 2017 was Mike Fiers. We all know how that season ended.
Marcus Stroman (TOR)
Marcus Stroman is another starter that a lot of Astros fans want on the team . Stroman, who was recently scratched from the All Star game with a pectoral injury, has been credited with allowing 37 earned runs (46 total runs) to cross the plate through 18 total starts, which is good for a 3.18 earned run average. Unlike Boyd, Stroman has managed to keep the baseball inside the park, allowing only ten home runs this season. The pectoral injury, though day to day according to MLB.com, happened right before the busiest time of the year for sellers like the Jays. Last season, Stroman was limited to 19 starts due to shoulder fatigue during the early months of the 2018 season, and blisters that would hamper his ability to pitch throughout August. It is unknown if the pectoral injury will affect his trade stock. Despite the injury, Stroman would give the Astros at least one more year of team control if they acquired him.
There are a number of other starting pitchers that the Astros could acquire like Luis Castillo, Mike Minor, Andrew Cashner, Noah Syndergaard, Madison Bumgarner (no-trade clause), along with relievers like Will Smith. At this point, though, the Reds may feel like they are contending and want to keep Castillo. The Rangers might want to re-sign Minor, as they may see themselves contending within the next couple of years. Bumgarner probably vetoes a trade to Houston, though if you ask some of our writers, that’s probably a good thing. The Mets remain a dumpster fire despite having three of the best pitchers in baseball.
So, who should the Astros go after? What would it cost? Well, I am horrible at trade predictions, so I’m gonna leave it to the comments section, but I suspect any trade for Boyd or Stroman would have to start with Kyle Tucker.
Which starting pitcher should the Astros trade for?
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