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Oops! All Astros: José Urquidy

Astros rotation man José Urquidy

MLB: Houston Astros at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

We’re looking at the 316 young men who played in the Astros system in 2022.

José Urquidy is a six-foot, 217 lb. right-handed starting pitcher from Mazatlan, MX. Born on May 1, 1995, he signed his first professional deal with the Astros on March 9, 2015. He made his debut in 2019, and over the first three seasons of his major league career he was 11-5 with a 3.55 ERA, a 1.019 WHIP, and 147 strikeouts in 177 23 innings. He only walked 34 batters during his first 34 appearances, including 32 starts.

Urquidy began the 2022 season as Houston’s number-four starter in the rotation. On June 26, in an eventual 6-3 loss to the New York Yankees, he went seven innings, walking three and striking out three. The only hit he gave up was a solo home run to Giancarlo Stanton. On August 3, he earned his 10th win of the campaign, striking out 10 and walking zero over seven shutout two-hit innings in a 6-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox. (see video below) On September 4, he walked one and struck out eight over seven shutout four-hit innings in a 9-1 triumph against the Los Angeles Angels.

Through the season, Urquidy managed an ERA+ of 98 and gave up a team-worst 29 home runs. I don’t mention it to dig on him, but to point out the remarkable consistency of a pitching staff with a 98 as it’s lowest ERA+ mark (of pitchers who totaled more than seven innings). He went 13-8 with a 3.94 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 164 13 innings. He only walked 38 to finish at 3.53 K/BB, which is sort of elite. His 2.1 BB/9 trails only Justin Verlander (1.5) and Will Smith (1.6). Urquidy finished with a .244/.292/.438 opposing slashline and a 1.168 WHIP.

Urquidy is reliant on a four-pitch mix, which leans heavily on his 94 MPH fastball (53 percent). The fastball works because it has 11.7 inches of vertical drop, 2.7 inches better than the MLB average and in the top three percent of all pitchers. He also has an 86 MPH change (.211 xBA), a 78 MPH curve (accounts for 26.7 percent of his K’s), and an 80 MPH slider (only 23.9 percent “hit hard”) that he uses about 14 percent each.

Houston’s pitching staff was so good they could afford to carry Urquidy on the roster through the postseason and only use him once. In his lone appearance, Game Three of the World Series, he pitched three innings of one-hit shutout relief in Houston’s 7-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Houston only used eight starting pitchers all season, with only Lance McCullers Jr. missing any significant time to injury. Of those eight, Jake Odorizzi moved on to the Atlanta Braves (then the Texas Rangers) and Justin Verlander declared free agency. That’s it. That leaves Houston’s rotation going into 2023 Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown, Luis Garcia, Lance McCullers, and Urquidy. Things change through Hot Stove season, but right now the Astros look set. Thanks for reading.