Can the Astros survive losing Gerrit Cole?


This is a post your loyal writer started about 3 weeks ago (that is if you count writing only the title as starting a post). In truth, the question here is a little broader as the Astros lost one great starter (Gerrit Cole) and one good starter (Wade Miley), who collapsed down the stretch last season.

In 2019, Cole was brilliant – 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 326 Ks over 212.1 IPs.

Miley was 14-6 with a 3.98 ERA over 167.1 IP.

That is almost 400 innings of solid to unworldly production that the Astros will have to replace. Can they do it well enough to contend in 2020?

It says here that they can do it and here is how…..

  1. Zack Greinke. You can say that we had him last season, but we only had him for two months of last season. Greinke, who has had over 200 innings in 5 of the last 6 seasons and 158.2 in his injury-shortened 2016 season will be with the Astros the whole season. And based on how he has pitched the last 6 seasons, plus specifically how well he pitched in 2019 (18-5, 2.93 ERA in 208.2 IP) there is no reason to expect he will not give the Astros at least 90% of what Cole gave them in 2019.
  2. Lance McCullers Jr.. Will he throw 167.1 IP like Miley did last season? No, but remember he threw 128.1 IP with a 3.86 ERA and a blown-out elbow at the end of 2018. If he can throw between 120 and 140 innings at close to his career 3.67 ERA the Astros would take that right now and not look back. If he could give them the 3.22 ERA he put up in his first two seasons with the team they would be popping corks.
  3. Jose Urquidy. Jose, who showed well in the regular season (2-1 and 3.95) and then pitched brilliantly and with tremendous poise in Game 5 of the World Series, could give the Astros better production at the bottom of the rotation than they had before the Greinke trade at the deadline.
  4. Addition by subtraction. The Astros will not have Corbin Martin‘s five starts at 5.59 ERA, Collin McHugh‘s 6.37 ERA in his 8 starts, Framber Valdez‘s 7.07 ERA in his 8 starts (hopefully he will be a new Framber if he does start this season) or Aaron Sanchez‘s 4.82 ERA in 4 starts (yeah I remember the no-no he led off).
  5. Addition by addition. It may feel like wishful thinking, but the Astros have some intriguing arms to throw out there to help fill the gap if Lance misses some time. Wunderkind Bryan Abreu, a completely new Framber Valdez, a completely new Josh James (who looks ready to grab the 5th spot in the rotation), swingman Austin Pruitt and top prospect Forrest Whitley may all help out during this 2020 season.

The bottom line is there is no way to know exactly what the Astros lost for 2020 from Cole and Miley. They might have trouble repeating their success from 2019. But the Astros have quite a few good options to piece together a successful rotation in 2020 without those two folks. (Oh and they do have the reigning Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander at the top of the rotation to bring leadership to this revamped rotation).

Will the Astros miss Cole (who has been a stand out in defending his team’s actions in 2018 and 2019)? Yes, but maybe not as much as we might have feared.

47 comments on “Can the Astros survive losing Gerrit Cole?

  1. Pitching Plan

    30+ starts between JV, and Greinke (60)
    24 each for James Urq and LMJ (72)
    Leaves 30 to fill-in between; Pruitt, Abreu, Valdez, Peacock
    (after June Whitley, Bielak)

    Multi-inning relief; Devenski, Perez, Taylor, Sneed, Armenteros
    (mid-season Paredes, Ivey, Torres)

    Astros not going after Dylan Bundy (for prospects only), or Michael Pineda ($10M) is quite telling. Astros locked & loaded.

    Considering MLB is filing a profit sharing grievance against Pirates (two others) for constantly rebuilding and not spending, we’ll see more of the extreme stratification. Once again there are only a few elite teams. It starts with pitching, and Luhnow left the hose clogged, ready to burst!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The Astros can survive losing Gerrit Cole by employing a five man rotation this season that pitches as well as the five man rotation did last season.
    At this time of the year in 2019, if I had asked you about the Astros getting to game 7 of the world series with Miley, McHugh and Peacock all disappearing from sight the last two months of the season, you would ask how that could happen.
    How in the world can Washington ever win the WS by losing Bryce Harper? That just won’t happen.
    Baseball has been about 25-man teams.
    Now it’s about 26-man teams.
    Someday it will probably be about 26-person teams, with the Astros 3rd baseperson being named Alex Bregperson.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bregerina? I know, that’s politically incorrect. We’re certainly not going to replace Cy Young, but if Verlander and Greinke are healthy, they will be effective. Then it’s all about getting the other innings needed from several guys, certainly a few more than 3. It’s the biggest question mark right now, but far from a prayer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. By pretty much any measure Gerrit Cole was just as deserving of a Cy Young last year as Verlander. You can’t just replace anyone performing at that level. What I think is overlooked is that the Astros weathered some injuries last year and didn’t have Alvarez until the summer. They went 15-12 in June but were really great every other month. How angry do you think the fans of the collective other 29 teams would be right now if Carlos Correa had played more than 75 regular season games or Josh Reddick had been able to swing a bat during the second half of the season? Wait, we’re talking about pitching? As long as the rotation can stay healthy the offense should provide the run support needed to win 100 games. I’m hoping they’re mad enough to provide the offense needed to win 120. I’m also hoping they don’t take the gas off the pedal when they face Cleveland, Boston, or NYY. I don’t want to hold Mike Fiers against the Athletics. Apparently MLB needed to step in and do something about the cheating. I’m just tired of the crybabies who were also breaking some rules getting to take pot shots.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I was listening to Brandon Backe being interviewed on local radio yesterday. He said if Biggio or Bagwell were there (i.e. Running the clubhouse) this scandal would not have happened). He said if he was on that team he would have brought it up to the other players, coaches, management and if need be the players association to try and get it stopped.
    But he has some choice words for Fiers and called him a few choice derogatory names. He said you don’t do this once you leave the team if you did not fight it when you were on the team.
    Interesting interview

    Liked by 3 people

    • I would like to believe his statement about Biggio and Bagwell is accurate. I still believe that the majority of the cheating was led by Cora and Beltran. I don’t care what Correa had to say before he was belatedly muffled. I also fully agree on Fiers.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Orioles have decided they will not keep P Brandon Bailey who they took from the Astros in the Rule 5 draft. He will be available to the other teams, who would have to add him to their team’s and keep him on the 26 man for the season. If no one bites he will be offered back to the Astros. If I remember the rules they can buy him back for 1/2 what the O’s paid and they don’t have to put him on the 26 man.
    He pitched very well at AA last season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, he did.

      Conner Wong, who I mentioned played at Tulsa last year. The manager asked him which day he wanted to play against Corpus. He said Whitley’s start over Bailey because, “Bailey can throw 3 pitches for strikes.”

      A lot has happened since then for Forrest, but it will be nice getting Bailey back (to have something to show for Laureano).

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  7. So, I have a dilemma for the blog. I have this small acre lot between Houston and San Antonio. And two buyers offering the same full price for it. In having to decide which one to choose, instead of drawing lots, I decided to flip a coin 3 times. It will be homesteads for both parties — imagine what fate lies in the flipping of this coin, I thought. How life can turn on a dime..

    Liked by 2 people

  8. On MLB.com they have an article naming every team’s best player who missed the Pipeline Top 30 for each team.
    The Astros have Peter Solomon who had TJ surgery last season. GoStros what is your opinion on that one?

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    • Oh, good question!
      As you can see yesterday, I had him as a middle rotation expected. I also brought his name up in relation to scrapping him for the year and seeing if we can gain the year back in service by stalling his Rule 5 status in Dec. The only way to do that is 40-man this Spring. That’s risky to take up the spot, though.

      The orthopedist in Salt Lake City, Matt Collier, who I have a lot of respect for would agree. (https://twitter.com/reillocity?lang=en) He has tracked every pitch by every college and amateur pitcher for several years.

      I have Solomon# 32, with Austin Hansen #31. The only reason was because of the uncertainty after surgery. But Matt stated his philosophy (relating to Solis as well) is that after the 1st TJ, most come back stronger nowadays, so he doesn’t move their rank. He’s probably right, but I like Hansen’s velocity better, and Solomon reminds me of McHugh — sort of a frail body type.

      My pick is bolder, based on pedigree as Hansen is 8th Round OU; Solomon 4th Round Notre Dame. In my heart of hearts, it’s Solomon.

      Keep in mind, among those from #10-30; Solis, Paredes, Garcia, Conine, Torres, Brown, Dubin, Rivera, Rodriguez, Taylor. Before the sugery, FaBIO had Peter Solomon in his Top 10 overall! High praise.

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    • I just have to say how nice it is to read a story and it is totally about the subject. Today whether news, sports, weather, whatever- the reporter makes it about him or her or their opinion. McTaggert just talks about Jones.

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  9. I haven’t seen Taylor Jones but listening to Robert Ford and Steve Sparks talk about him is VERY encouraging. Those long legs are going to get used…A LOT!
    Moving forward? Has every guy who was on the 2017 and not here anymore finished talking about “it”, because I’m getting pretty irked at listening about what they knew and what happened. Today’s dujour….is from Collin McHugh.
    Stop it……just STOP IT. 😠

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    • I read what he said and I agree with you. STOP IT. When I was 5 years old, I had a BB gun. Mrs. Pope lived behind us and I played with her grandson. We stole a quarter from her to buy us more BBs. Got caught. Apologized. It has been 70 years and when I look back, I still can’t believe I did it. But there is no use going to the cemetery and digging up Mrs. Pope to apologize AGAIN. STOP IT.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Yes, Jones is looking solid so far. I moved him up on closest to majors.

    “Chazzy Fizz” Chas McCormick continued his torrid Spring tonight, making good plays in CF. The 21st round pick from tiny Millersville, Pennsylvania hit a Walk-Off opposite field HR to end it, 3-2 v Mets!

    Nivaldo Rodriguez threw a perfect 1-2-3, 8th innning.

    Prospect ranks.
    #24 Chas McCormick – Overachieve, plate control, pop and good contact.
    #25 Nivaldo Rodriguez – Added to 40-man, sharp, will begin age 23 in AA.
    #27 Taylor Jones – Adds 3B/1B to better batted ball advances, 22HR in RR.

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  11. These are the adjustments since Martes’ suspension. I moved Stubbs up ahead of Toro (for AC), but I want Stubbs to remain in RR with that amazing rotation! Garneau looks really good. If Diaz got injured, Mayfield is 1st call up. Javier is one of the hottest talents right now, but there’s no room for him. Jones moves up. Perez was assigned before Blake Taylor, so that may indicate they want to see more of the southpaw from the Marisnick trade.

    1.) Jose Urquidy; 2.) Bryan Abreu; 3.) Garrett Stubbs; 4.) Abraham Toro;
    5.) Jack Mayfield. 6.) Cristian Javier; 7.) Blake Taylor; 8.) Cionel Perez; 9.) Taylor Jones; 10.) Enoli Paredes
    11.) Forrest Whitley (Super Two, mid-June call up);
    12) Brandon Bielak (S2 or sooner, a la, Corbin Martin);
    13.) Chas McCormick;
    14.) Rogelio Armenteros;
    15) Nick Tanielu;
    16.) Jojanse Torres.

    Still In the Picture: Alex De Goti, Drew Ferguson, Ronnie Dawson, Colin McKee, Tyler Ivey, Lo Quintana, Ralph Garza.

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  12. Last year, the Astros pitched 1462 innings. Cole pitched 212 (14.5%) and Miley 167 (11%). So it is like replacing a quarter of your innings and not 40% of the starters. That is not to downplay what they did, but just to realize that a few guys doing more than they did last year will be able to fill the gaps – provided no huge list of injuries. And there are 200 bullpen innings that need replacing.

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    • I was surprised the AA announcer didn’t embellish when Sparks asked him about Bailey last night. He kind of said, “yeah, he’s good.” And they moved on.

      Brandon Bielak, Notre Dame is on the hill again, trying to right his ship after a bit of a rough start so far. He owes a lot to Pitching Coaches in the system, like Bill Murphy.

      So far grain of salt Spring, it doesn’t look like he’s gone deep enough to see a third time through scenario, so it pushes ETA to late-May, June consideration, after we see him in RR again (alongside vets Emanuel, Perez, Armenteros, Taylor, Sneed and maybe Biagini).

      Last night I started following a real Santa Claus who lives in Troy, NY, attends closely our Tri-Cities team. He comments on Spring Training games, saying “I remember that kid 2 years ago, he was awesome, etc.” Luv to see support all over the country. In Fayettville NC, in Iowa, Corpus, RR, and Dominican Academy. Watching players like Meyers and De la Cruz progress, or to see Chandler Taylor (we drafted him) beat out Ross Adolph warms my heart. By watching them closely, you start to get a feel for Josh Rojas, or Jose Urquidy before anyone is talking about them nationally.

      The guy who really jumps out at me Top 30- list?
      UT’s, Blair Henley. Look at this amazing draft. With about $1M the Astros did this!

      Round 5, #166 overall: Hunter Brown, RHP, Wayne State (JR)
      Round 6, #196 overall: Matthew Barefoot, CF, Campbell (redshirt JR)
      [injured lat year, going to be a good one]
      Round 7, #226 overall: Blair Henley, RHP, Texas (JR)
      Round 8, #256 overall: Luis Guerrero, CF, Miami Dade College (JUCO SOPH); committed to South Florida [some still have high hopes here, not me.]
      Round 9, #286 overall: Peyton Battenfield, RHP, Oklahoma State (JR) [traded for Austin Pruitt]
      Round 10, #316 overall: C.J. Stubbs, C, USC (redshirt JR) [slugged over 600!]
      Round 11, #346 overall: Ryan Gusto, RHP, Florida Southwestern State College (JUCO SOPH) [has a big arm and great attitude.]

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  13. It is interesting considering a 40 man roster, last year the Astros had 45 batters and looks like +3 more pitchers that did not bat. It is a TEAM effort to get to the playoffs these days.

    They had 26 pitchers to include Stassi and White. The 1953 Yankees (just to pick someone) had only 14 pitchers during the year. The game is not the same.

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    • Different eras?

      In 1919 when Babe Ruth hit 29 home runs at age 24, Tris Speaker had 12 K’s in 591 plate appearances. Cleveland as a team only hit 24 HR!

      When Speaker was age 30, he had 9 strikouts and 64 walks in 471 at-bats. Didn’t Gattis, Marisnick and Gomez avg. 9 K’s a game by themselves?

      Very different!

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      • Sure was different. Of course they played fewer games, but the league leading Senators stuck out 536 in 1919. The Reds won it all and had 407 K’s during the regular season. We got 636 strikeouts from Verlander and Cole alone last year. Why do I envision dirty soggy baseballs being used on a rainy, chilly day in April?

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  14. Did you guys hear about the visiting locker room manager with the Angels giving opposing pitcher’s sticky substances to “help them grip the ball”? Guys name is Brian Harkins. The unbelievable part of this story is he worked at Angels Stadium for nearly *40* years! NOW…..THAT’S a scandal!!
    Verlander left pretty quick after 2 innings…..going to get tests done, he won’t be available to clubhouse media. Stay tuned, and keep your fingers crossed that it’s not serious. Dusty will have more when the game is over.

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    • I’m probably part of the very few who sees little worry about JV. Assuming of course it is mostly precautionary, as Baker said. Even two months wouldn’t upset me, given the depth in-house, and 2nd half of the season looming larger.

      (Again, I suppose it’s just par for the course that players are falling like flies? And we’re not even talking about over doing it here — JV was throwing 91!)

      Btw, I brought up the issue Whitley was having last season with veteran players, and coaches (relating to mocking him with, “Daddy”). While I thought some of his comments the last few weeks meant he was channeling it to a positive, it looks to have spilled over again this year. Chandler Rome even called it a disconnect today that Strom was “not happy” Whitley showed up at camp not ready physically. Forrest’s reason publicly was that he “came in under weight last year, and ran out of gas over the course of the season.” He said he was trying to be ramped up “when it counts in June or July.”

      Now, if that doesn’t sound like a young man who knew for a FACT the team was going to manipulate his service time with Super Two, I don’t know what does? As big a proponent as I have been of his, it would not surprise me if these two part ways! And instead of Hinch, I am seeing this centered around Strom.

      Another tipoff for me was Strom’s interview the other night on the field. Strom wanted to point out, “there are 2 kinds of pitchers: one is humble, the other is boisterous.” Given that Whitley has always been considered confident, I am starting to connect some dots.

      They have asked Whitley now twice in two Spring trainings how he has learned from Verlander. Neither time did he say JV has done anything to help him, and twice he has danced around it by saying, “oh, just watching how he prepares,” non-descript. Sadly, I am not seeing resolution from last season issues. His stat line looked ok yesterday, but he missed wildly on several payoff pitches. Not liking these observations.

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      • God, I don’t want to speak this into existence. But I sure hope that Whitley does not turn into one of those “million dollar arm with a 10 cent brain.”

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      • Now c’mon AC – even if he is a complete moron I am sure the world of science would at least pay $50 for his brain…..

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      • Though his “I didn’t work as hard this off-season and put on weight so I would be a better player” did sound like someone who didn’t work as hard and didn’t diet so he could screw around all winter

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      • Everything these days reminds me of old baseball stories, so here goes. Whitley reminds me of the kid that was a Bonus Baby back when $20,000 got you that title. The kid showed up and was terrible. No fastball, no command, no break on the curve. When confronted with his slack of skills, he said “You should see me hum it back behind my barn.”

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  15. More brilliance coming from the cheap seats, noted by McTags:

    “Fans are chanting ‘cheater’ with Michael Brantley coming up here at Clover Park. Brantley, of course, wasn’t on the 2017 or 2018 Astros.”

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  16. I’m using a newly imported lap top that just swallowed a Whitney post. A few bullet points instead:

    We all know and every expert in the business knows he’s a great talent.
    When we brought up LMJ at 21, what was his status?
    Lance was a cocky kid, but I don’t recollect any clubhouse issues.
    Maybe at 21 he already had what he needed between the ears.
    Has Strom ever hinted at being pissed of at one of his guys, even back to Giles?
    Maybe, and there is some evidence of this on and off the field, Whitney just does not want it bad enough.
    Maybe the guys in the dugout just want to see the kid not waste his talent.
    I would just be so pleased to see the guy start using all his God given talent.
    This team sure could use it.

    Liked by 1 person

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