Astros rotation: The gray area between worry and concern

Back when my wife was a bit of a rebellious teenager, she used to have a conversation with her father that went something like this. “Don’t be worried about me, Dad.” Her dad would reply, “I’m not worried, I’m concerned.”

In some ways this ties to the feelings about the Houston Astros rotation this season. There are obvious elephants in the room (and no, this is not related to J.D. Davis‘ feelings about Alex Bregman) and most fans waver between concern and all out worry on these items.

Worry/Concern #1 – The health of Collin McHugh. Though his career arc has been on a downward slide – from an excellent 2014 to a solid 2015 to a mediocre 2016 – he still has 43 wins in those three seasons, which is two more than his bearded Cy-Kick Dallas Keuchel. He has had shoulder soreness this spring. He is throwing finally, but is likely headed to the DL to start the season and after what happened with Keuchel last season, it is likely the team will go slow with him.

Worry/Concern #2 – Can Lance McCullers Jr. be dominant and healthy for a whole season. He has put up two matching 3.22 ERAs in his first two seasons in the majors and is striking out more than 10 hitters per 9 innings. But Lance and his high heat and devastating curve ball started the 2016 season injured and only lasted 82 innings before missing the rest of the season. He has been working on a delivery change to take the strain off his arm. Can he cut down on pitch counts and base runners (a bad 1.543 WHIP in 2016) and nurse his arm all the way through 2017?

Worry/Concern #3 – Will the 2015 or even the 2014 Dallas Keuchel return? You know the story – he lied about his injury and struggled through a bad 2016 after a very good 2014 and a supreme 2015. This spring he has shown up as the good DK, which is the best positive sign this year. Will he hold it?

Worry/Concern #4 – Is Charlie Morton a mirage or even a PED mad cheater? No, it is not likely the new Astro is on the juice with testing these days, but his story is just so unusual that if he comes through as he has shown this spring, he may be THE story in baseball. To date:

  • His career numbers are 46-71, with a 4.55 ERA, 1.441 WHIP and a -2.6 WAR.
  • In his last 5 seasons he has thrown over 130 innings once.
  • In 9 seasons he has won more games than he lost once.
  • At the age of 32, when most pitchers are thinking about how little time they have left, he changed his delivery and tacked multiple mph to his pitches.

Will he continue to pitch as the Astros thought he would when they signed him early in free agency and as he has excelled during ST?

Worry/Concern #5 – Is Joseph Musgrove the real deal or will he get figured out the next time through the league? He was solid in 10 starts at the end of 2016 with a 4-4 record and 4.04 ERA. But guys have looked good before in short stints (e.g. Kevin Chapman with a 1.77 ERA in 25 games in his 2013 debut) and fallen on their faces over a full season…..OK – I’m really not worried about this one. I think the guy is very good, but the question is still out there.

Worry/Concern #6 – Who would the Astros give up to get a rotation “upgrade” and would that upgrade turn into Scott Kazmir II? The discussions about trading some combination of Alex Bregman, Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and/or Musgrove for Jose Quintana has been tantalizing and upsetting. Can the Astros avoid making this trade or make the trade for a more palatable package of prospects?

So, in the list above….

  • What keeps you up worried at night?
  • What has you concerned but not worried?
  • What does not bother you a bit?

149 comments on “Astros rotation: The gray area between worry and concern

  1. I just remember the sick look on Peacocks face when he looked in the dugout and see the look of disgust on Bo Porters face. Those were the days when there weren’t any pitchers to rescue him outta his messes. I always felt sorry for the guy, because he would lay a rotten egg on the mound, and get sent down before the game was over.
    Like I said……I sure hope you’re right about the guy OP, if there was any guy who needed redemption it’s him. Let me know how McCullers looks tonight…..I’ll only get to hear the game on the radio. I hope he does well! Thanks fellas and gals!


    • Becky, I looked a while ago and saw that both of the Astros/Cubs games tonight and tomorrow are on MLB Network. I know you don’t get Root Sports, but maybe you get MLB. Just a thought.


  2. Can Lance get out of the first inning with less than15 pitches? Can he avoid walks and 3-ball counts, and average 4 pitches or less per out [72 pitches or less in all] over the first six innings? The bar is high – especially against a club like the ChiCubs.


  3. The nice glass vase is getting shelled, it would appear. BUT…..nice to see Reddick and Altuve get homeruns.
    Op….MLB TV is blacked out in Houston and Dallas Ft. Worth because our games are broadcast locally. Now if I lived in Beaumont, or any surrounding city I could get the games through MLB TV. Believe me…..I’ve tried but it’s not gonna happen. What REALLY chaps my a$$ is my cable company is too cheap to pick up Root sports. I have sent them emails, and talked with them on the phone,but they aren’t gonna budge. I wasn’t very lady like when I did it either😠


    • Having worked in the cable industry for years, I can tell you right now calling the 1800 # will not have any affect on whether or not the company will pick up a certain channel.

      Out of curiousity, which cable company are you with?


    • Becky, I was disappointed, also, until I remembered what Hinch’s criteria for choosing between the two finalists was.
      Because of the team’s lack of LH relievers, Hinch was looking for a guy to get LH batters out. Hoyt was good at that last year. But, Gustave absolutely blew Hoyt away this spring when it came to getting LH batters out. Gustave was outstanding in doing it and Hoyt wasn’t.
      When it came to choosing the eighth guy in the bullpen, Gustave got left-handed batters out this spring and won the job. He got right handed batters out, too.
      This is also a win for the Astros’ system. Gustave was signed by the Astros as a 17 year old out of the Dominican Republic in 2010.
      Hoyt is still only a cellphone call away. This is not something to be sad about.
      One of our young prospects who throws 100 mph made the team and did not show a tendency to walk guys. That’s a big win, if it continues for real.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The good news is that Lance won’t have to face the Cubs every time out. By as OP noted in the very first post of this thread, LMC is still a young pitcher, and is pitching like a young pitcher. Let’s face it, he regressed last year. We also know he’s got great stuff and at times can get anyone out. But maybe we’ve put too much pressure on him. He probably should not be a number two. He’s going to show us quickly how much depth we’ve got in this rotation. He could end up playing a role in Bregman’s future. Or any number of guys.


    • I’m not knocking the guy. I actually felt sorry for him last night. He is still very young and I’m sure he is under tremendous pressure.
      But if 2015 Keuchel and MuHugh don’t show up we’re in deep trouble.


  5. Former Astro Jarred Cosart was beaten out for the last spot in what might be MLB’s worst rotation. Cosart goes to the bullpen for the Padres.


  6. Since a number of us like to argue about defensive abilities and whether our outfielders have enough value, I wanted to throw up a link:

    My opinion is there isn’t enough data to really say much yet. I want to see how TB’s outfield actually fares and where they rate next year. Also, I think guys who play in wind-free environments will have an advantage over guys who play outdoors.


  7. Let’s hope Sipp and Giles are getting it all out of their system. Sipp and Giles brought in to face rookies and minor leaguers – and both have a meltdown anyway.


    • Let’s hope they stay off the field until they have their ship straight?

      Any “test” to see if Giles can close right now vs the entire world watching Luke Gregerson’s untouchable finish the past month is just stubbornness.


  8. Okay, the slate has just been erased. New blackboard; new chalk.

    Who will be the top three 2017 Astros in each category:

    1. WHIP [starter]/WHIP [reliever];
    2. Saves
    3. Holds
    4. Blown holds
    5. ERA [starter]/ERA [reliever];
    6. GO/AO [starter]/GO/AO [reliever];
    7. K/9 [starter]; K/9 [reliever]
    8. WPs [starter]/ WPs [reliever]
    9. BA;
    10. OBP;
    11. Doubles;
    12. HRs;
    13. RBIs;
    14. Offensive Ks;
    15. BBs;
    16. Game-winning Hits


  9. Mr. Bill’s projections:

    Top three starters in WHIP – Morton, Musgrove, Fiers
    Top three relievers in WHIP – Harris, Gregerson, Devenski

    Top relievers in holds – Gregerson, Harris, Devenski
    Top relievers in blown holds – Peacock, Gustave, Feliz

    Top Three relievers in saves: Gregerson, Giles, Harris

    Top three starters in ERA: McCullers, Musgrove, Keuchel
    Top three relievers in ERA: Harris, Gregerson, Devenski

    Top three starters in GO/AO: Keuchel, Morton, McCullers
    Top three relievers in GO/AO: Gregerson, Devenski, Gustave

    Top three starters in K/9: McCullers, Morton, Keuchel
    Top three relievers in K/9: Giles, Harris, Devenski

    Top three starters in WPs: McCullers, McHugh, Fiers
    Top three relievers in WPs: Giles, Gustave, Peacock

    Top three in BA: Altuve, Aoki, and Beltran

    Top three in OBP: Altuve, Correa, and Springer

    Top three in doubles: Altuve, Correa, and Gurriel

    Top three in HRs: Correa, Beltran, and Springer

    Top three in RBIs: Altuve, Beltran, and Gurriel

    Top three in offensive Ks: Springer, Marisnick, Bregman

    Top three in BBs: Correa, Springer, and Aoki

    Top three in Game winning hits: Correa, Beltran, and Altuve


  10. Adding to the note above on Cozart, Paul Clemens was cut/demoted by Padres also. So as of today the only complaint about our draft, look, and decide on – that even I can fault JL is Villar. And that had to be done. So as of today we still may have not “won” a trade, but we haven’t lost one for sure. Time will tell what is in your basket.


  11. Questoin: What current Astro player do you see as on the cusp of breaking out into greatness – and what current Astro player do you see as on the brink of disaster?


    • Since you ask for an educated guess I will guess:
      Geatness- Correa and Gustave. One is whom everybody picks and the other is my guess.
      Disaster- McHugh


  12. I sure was wrong about Cozart. The kid had the ability, but like so often, that’s just not enough in life. On the other hand, I see in Joe Musgrove a guy wiser than his years, a willingness to learn and a focused mindset. He’s going to help this group of five.


  13. Hi folks – thanks for keeping the conversation going – I have been extremely busy at work and today has been my catch up day. My tease here is that I just finished my Astros 2017 preview and as soon as Chip gets a chance to set it up and post it you will have more to chew on. I really appreciate y’all and your love for baseball and everything Astros!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • We have missed you Dan! As for me, I have been singing Elton John’s classics, and picturing you travelin’ on a plane, with your red tail lights heading for Spain. Through the clouds in my eyes, I have been wondering if you are older than me, and if you still feel the pain of the scars won’t heal. I have been trying to figure out if your eyes have died – or if you see more than I! Anyway, the thing is, what I realy mean: Daniel you’re a star in the face of the sky!


      • Yeah very few people know that song was written about me. And Elton sends me 1/2 of his royalty checks over to me at my home in Spain.
        Oh and you may have noticed what day today is….

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh and I think it was Becky mentioning that Ricky Fowler was throwing the first pitch the other night. Must have been good karma involved because he is in 2nd at the Shell Houston Open and on a charge for the lead.


  15. Mike Hauschild made the Rangers opening day…….man I hope not protecting him won’t come back to bite us in the a$$. I hate losing ANY BODY to that *jerk* face club in north texas.

    Liked by 1 person

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