Hey, I know the Astros’ biggest needs are found in their outfield and their bullpen. But in a 162-game regular season, you can’t forget about the starting rotation, especially if you are loaded with young arms and, probably, won’t have Justin Verlander around in 2021.
After most starters needed to work only for 60-70 innings during the 2020 shortened season, they’ll need to go the regular 180-250 episodes in 2021. That will open the door for injuries, underperformance, and absences. That’s why the Astros need the depth they don’t have now.
Let’s take a look at the following five options...
1. RHP Félix Hernández
They don’t call him King Felix for nothing. This guy was one of the best pitchers in the West Division for years with the Mariners, won the Cy Young in 2010, and was the runner up in 2009 and 2014. It’s true he pitched poorly from 2017 to 2019, but he might have something left in the tank.
Last year, before sitting out due to COVID-19, he was close to earning a spot in the Braves rotation after pitching 13 2⁄3 innings of 13 hits and three earned runs in Spring Training, with no home runs, five walks, and 14 strikeouts (1.98 PCL across four starts). At 34, he might not be done yet and could come at a bargain price for the Astros. Besides, he knows the division better than anyone.
2. RHP Chris Archer
As with Félix Hernández, Archer was an elite pitcher five years ago as a member of the Rays. From 2013 to 2015, he started 89 games and recorded a 3.26 ERA (3.36 FIP, 1.186 WHIP).
And despite he hasn’t been the same lately, Archer still strikes out people with ease (10.8 K/9 in 2019). Even though he’s struggling with command and home runs per nine, he could get an opportunity to regain his shape in the American League with the Astros. He’s only 32 and could be another Brent Strom miracle, right?
3. LHP Rich Hill
Rich Hill is 40 years old, an age at which not too many guys can pitch effectively, but he seriously can. Although he’s not the most durable pitcher, Hill’s pitched to 6.7 H/9, 2.9 BB/9, and 10.4 K/9 ratios in 505 innings across 95 appearances (94 starts) since 2015.
In that span, he owns a 43-22 record and 584 strikeouts, most of them thanks to the marvelous curveball he’s still silencing bats with. Hill will turn 41 in March, but will surely get a lot of attention very soon.
4. RHP Mike Foltynewicz
The former Houston Astro is seeking a contract after a decent six-season run with the Braves. Folty wasn’t that good in 2019 and barely pitched in 2020, but his best performance is not too far behind: In 2018, he had his only All-Star campaign thanks to a showing of a 2.85 ERA and 202 punchouts across 183 episodes.
Foltynewicz could be looking for at least a two-year deal, but that can be reasonable due to his upside. The 29-year-old righty threw only 3 1⁄3 innings in 2020 and the velocity of his fastballs (sinker and four-seamer) fell from 94.9 MPH to 90.4 MPH, which could be a red flag despite the small sample size (31 pitches).
You’re James Click: If any, who do you sign?
This poll is closed