Moving forward, José Urquidy will be a key man for the Astros. Gerrit Cole is not on the team anymore and the rotation, at least for now, doesn’t seem as deep as it was months ago. It’s time to give the ball to the Mexican righty.
Even though Lance McCullers Jr. is returning from Tommy John surgery and there’s hope for high-end prospect Forrest Whitley, Urquidy is slated to be a vital piece. There are reasons to believe that he can secure a rotation spot and be pretty effective in the long run. His 2019 season allowed us to have a glimpse of that.
In 2019, the 25-year-old began his MLB career throwing 41 innings of 38 hits, 18 earned runs, seven bases on balls, and 40 strikeouts. His 3.68 FIP was a bit better than his 3.95 ERA, but the best part of his performance is the ratios: 1.5 BB/9, 8.8 K/9. Urquidy will make you swing and miss without allowing a bunch of walks.
Regarding his ERA and his 1.32 HR/9 ratio, we need to see appearance by appearance. Once you’re there, you’ll find two ugly outings against the Angels and the Indians. He accepted 11 earned runs in 6 1⁄3 frames combined. If you put those two games aside, he’d have finished the regular season with a 1.82 ERA across 34 2⁄3 innings with only three long balls allowed.
When you see his advanced stats and his career in the minors, there’s much to fall in love with. For example, Urquidy usually gives up fewer home runs, that’s why his FIP tends to be lower than 3.68.
José usually induces soft contact. His exit velocity was 85.5 MPH, two miles below the MLB average (87.5). Plus, his hard hit percentage (29.2), according to Baseball Savant, is way below league average (34.5).
His best pitch seems to be an 84.3-MPH changeup that was good for a .160 opponent batting average and 14 of his 40 punchouts last year. His exit velocity on that delivery was 82.1 MPH last year, which ranked second among all Astros’ pitchers (150 changeups minimum), only behind closer Roberto Osuna (80.6 MPH) and barely above Verlander (82.2 MPH).
Summing up, while he might not have the repertoire of an ace and he’s unlikely to become one, Urquidy has the stuff to step up really well behind Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, and McCullers Jr.
Whenever baseball happens again, watching the young Mexican will be one of the most intriguing stories on the Astros.
Enjoy looking back at this 10-strikeout start against the Athletics...