Astros’ pitching takes the spotlight (but some of the spots are not so light)

In the month since the Astros settled with Shortstop Carlos Correa instead of dueling with him in arbitration, the news coming out of the Astros camp was pretty mundane. They had signed a couple of NRIs (Non-roster invitees) in pitchers Steve Cisehek and Robel Garcia. There had been a bit of talk after both Correa and pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. announced they would really, really, really like to sign an extension with the Astros as long as it happened before the season started and as long as it was for more money and years than the club wanted to pay. OK, the last part was unspoken. Astros’ extension candidates and discussion | CHIPALATTA

Then the last half of this week, starting on Wednesday, pitching jumped into the baseball spotlight, mostly for unfortunate reasons. Framber Valdez who busted out in 2020 and was expected to be a critical cog in the starting rotation, busted something else and was diagnosed with a broken ring finger on a fielding play from the game on Tuesday. It was speculated this would require surgery, which unexpectedly could cost him the season. Surgery Recommended For Framber Valdez – MLB Trade Rumors

Just as everyone was speculating on who might have to step up to take Framber’s spot, in-house options dropped like flies as it was announced on Friday that eight pitchers, including starter Cristian Javier and potential starters Brian Abreu, Luis Garcia and Francis Martes, along with sure thing relievers Pedro Baez and Enoli Paredes and also NRIs Hector Velasquez and Ronel Blanco would all be sent away from camp due to safety (read this COVID) protocols. Astros pitchers quarantined (mlb.com)

This was followed up on Saturday by the only good news of the last few days (that has not yet been officially announced by the team) that starter Jake Odorizzi was signed to what appears to be a two-year contract with a third-year player option. This pairing had been rumored after the Valdez injury due to Odorizzi being one of the best FAs left on the market and due to some connection with James Click from Odorizzi’s time with the Rays. Astros To Sign Jake Odorizzi – MLB Trade Rumors

Later on Saturday, there was a news blip on Forrest Whitley, who had to be considered a candidate for a next man up spot, dealing with a sore arm, which has seemed to be an annual event for the last few years. Injury Notes: Longoria, Urias, Whitley – MLB Trade Rumors. A few hours later, another article on Framber Valdez considered a non-surgical approach to healing his broken finger. Latest On Framber Valdez – MLB Trade Rumors

This did not stay at the top of the Astros page as a follow up article on Whitley on Sunday morning stated he has a sprained UCL in his right arm and that Tommy John surgery has been recommended for him. Tommy John Surgery Recommended For Astros’ Forrest Whitley – MLB Trade Rumors

By this time, Astro fans’ eyes were wobbling in their sockets, and their brains were concussed from whacking the wall too many times. What does it all mean?

  • The Astros first game is April 1 (and no, that is not a joke) in Oakland, approximately 3-1/2 weeks away.
  • It is a sure thing that Odorizzi, who started between 28 and 33 games every year between 2014 and 2019 before being slowed down by injury in 2020, will be expected to step up into Valdez’s spot in the rotation.
  • Unless someone truly has COVID and has a long recovery, the pitchers out on protocol should return (if they are clear) about 7 days out from when they were put into quarantine. This means that pitchers Javier, Paredes, and Baez, who are expected to make the squad, should have enough time to get ready before the season starts. But should is not shall, so there could be a delay to their seasons and an opportunity for someone else.
  • Whitley, who, if he had been healthy last season, should have gotten a shot at the majors amid the many Astro rookies used, now has that potential debut pushed a year plus into the future, if then. He is becoming the white whale for fans. Will we ever really see him with the big club?
  • It suddenly becomes quite critical that the Astros try to skate through the rest of March with minimal injury news on the pitching front.

Beyond that, it is hard to remember a week (actually five days) crammed with so much Astros pitching news in the past. Hopefully, the rest of the spring will be quiet and filled with returning arms.

33 comments on “Astros’ pitching takes the spotlight (but some of the spots are not so light)

  1. It’s no coincidence that the Astros came to agreement with Odorizzi a day after learning of Framber and Forrest’s injuries. I hope we find out soon what Whitley will do so that we can get Odorizzi into camp and ramped up to start the season. I am sure there are Covid protocols to follow also.

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    • I wonder if we are waiting on a physical for Odorizzi or are they waiting to clear a spot on the 40 man for him. Between Framber and Forrest there would seem to be a couple 40 man spots that could be opened with a 60 day IL move.

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      • That’s kinda what I was insinuating. If Whitley does have surgery, he’s the guy you would want on the IL because he’d be out until next year and he’s the guy you would want on the 60-day. There still might be a chance for Framber to return, however slim.

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      • I guess I’m thinking that Framber will be out at least 60 days too – of course I’m not a doctor – I just play one on baseball blogs….

        Liked by 1 person

    • At first glance, Brewer should be in the 20’s — an athlete seeking to become a baseball player. He also had knee surgery which allowed some others to jump ahead (Daniels, Barber).

      You can see Callis is not as big a fan of Abreu, and doesn’t believe as Strom says, he can be a Starter.

      Dubin and McCormick rightfully so, made good moves up the list. Solomon could be poised as a quick mover.

      I’d have put De La Cruz before Joe Perez, unless he has some intel there. If they’re going to put the older guys who once sniffed Top 30 and fell off, I’d be thinking a healthy Alex McKenna instead. But when you’re talking #30, there could be a list of 15 guys right there; like Ryan Gusto, or Angel Macuare. How about the new guy from Crane’s alma mater, Jonathan Sprinkle and his 16 K per 9?!

      I’m going to give him a lot of credit on this list. Pretty solid & doesn’t differ much from my own. Probably the ‘dirty l’il secret’ we’re all playing along with is Freudis Nova at #7 as the biggest risk. He’s had a decent Spring so far, and still very young. The problem is he won’t be called up before 2022, and we cannot afford to keep someone on 40-man that long with such a (fringe) team outlook.

      If I’m being deathly honest, we’d probably need to downgrade Whitley for a time, til he shows the arm responds, and I’d rather have Luis Garcia or Hunter Brown in those #1 and #2 spots. The $4m price tag of Leon will probably prevail nonetheless. Watching a few of Leon’s AB’s, you can tell he has an advanced plate approach already, laying off some crazy off speed stuff. And he’s made some plays in the field. Kind of surprising for a little(r) guy.

      I’m sure with Forrest out now, the farm ranks will take another hit. One guy who could help soften the blow is the continued success of Nivaldo Rodriguez. He has one of the best curveballs in the org, and the Astros really surprised me rostering him Dec 2019. Immediatley, I thought we’d lose Rivera and/or Castellanos by so doing, and by keeping Emanuel.

      Looks like Kent is on a Mission, btw! Sparks says he looks very confident now — chest out and very sharp. Hear that, Devin?! He’s worked an awful long time, and he’s very upset at testing positive, saying he has NO IDEA how that got in his system. I’m inclined to believe someone so ardent. A lot of experts cannot decide on exactly how many more games he is suspended, but there’s your lefty starter now that Framber is out.

      Getting a resurging Frankie Martes would really be something else.

      What do you all think, Op and others?

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      • I haven’t followed Emanuel as much over the last couple years, but I can’t see him holding a spot as a starter effectively after missing so much time for an extended period of time. I missed his innings the other day, but am glad to hear he looked good. I tend to assume the worst on the positive tests, but in fairness to the players it should be noted the Astros are not handing out pharmaceuticals and they often get their supplements online and through local stores/gyms where mistakes are made.

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    • Since I have been keeping up with Astros prospect lists, I do not ever remember an Astros prospect with an arm graded at 80.
      Leon is the first I have seen.

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  2. The list was made up before Whitley’s elbow blew out. It’s his last hurrah in the Top 100. I would have Leon #1 followed by Hunter Brown and Jeremy Pena.
    Jairo Solis would be my #4, followed by Korey Lee and Colin Barber at #6.
    Bryan Abreu would be in my top 10, Ronnie Dawson would be off my list and Brewer would be in the 20’s. Tyler Brown would be higher if the Astros were not planning on him as a starter.
    Sure wish we could see Peter Solomon throw.

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    • I should probably give more credit to Leon’s hit tool, but simply reserving all-in til we take notes in AAA.

      Betcha we’ll see Solomon soon. Scrubb is another one?

      Torres looked solid til he didn’t yesterday. A humbling game that requires the utmost concentration.

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      • Solomon does pitch tomorrow said Sparks, Scrubb pitched really well tonight in his opener after a leg thing that pushed him back a week.

        Tyler Ivey pitched great! Struck out 3 of 6.

        Player of the Game: Bryan De La Cruz for belting in a 2 R single late in the game from 4-2 deficit. He and Siri may make Souza’s price tag obsolete in their battle for 4th OF. McCormick is now 1 for 9. Siri is hitting the ball hard, and doing all the right things.

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  3. The three year contract (3rd year player’s option) for Odorizzi means the hit for 2021 is $7.8 MM which keeps the Astros about $6 MM below the luxury tax line.

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  4. My wife, youngest son and I all got our first shot of the Pfizer vaccine today. Hopefully there is no side effect like suddenly liking the Yankees or feeling forgiveness towards Mike Fiers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Last night on MLB Baseball tonight, while highlighting the Astros in their 30 teams in 30 days tour, one of the guys, I think it was Jonathan Mayo, stated that Correa would be MVP and win a Gold Glove in 2021.

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    • Are we trading him to the Yankees before the season?
      It would be interesting, if one of our players put up overwhelming numbers for one of the categories and was dissed by the “voters” due to “IT”.

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    • It’s not much of a stretch to expect Correa to make every effort to have a monster year right before he hits free agency. However, I don’t believe he’s ever been a player who was happy to coast into and during the season. I know that’s at odds with a few narratives given some of the times he has missed games, but he’s always struck me as a guy who prepared to play as well as anyone else in the organization.

      On a tangent, I tried watching some of the 30 teams in 30 days and decided to give up after watching the PHI-NYY game this weekend. David Cone was the color guy, but the play-by-play guy was atrocious. Cone would be telling a story and the guy would jump in and ask him a question for which Cone had just given the answer about 20 seconds prior. I feel like it’s time for the fans to rise up and demand the clowns be removed from the broadcast teams. Also, I was not impressed with any of the top prospects from either team that played in the game.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I hope he wins the MVP, The Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, Humanitarian of the Year and whatever else is out there along with leading us to a World Series win. Thing is, unless he has a bad year, we’re not going to see him back.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t trust anything I see, hear or read during spring training. How is a guy supposed to be judged on if he can play or if he has improved when he plays a few innings and gets pulled? Or if he pitches an inning or two in a situation he would not face during the regular season?
    As baseball itself becomes less and less like real baseball, spring training becomes even less like real baseball.
    We really don’t know anything about how the club is evaluating players, so I guess I will just hold my opinions on something I know nothing about.
    One thing I do know: the Yankees #1 prospect is also MLB’s #32 overall prospect and has never actually played baseball before, unless it was some sort of HS baseball in the Dominican Republic. He signed as a 16 year old for $5.1 million, and he is the darling prospect of baseball. The Bee’s Knees.
    The comparisons you see for him are ridiculous. Better than Mike Trout when Trout was 17. The next Mickey Mantle. An athlete comparable to Bo Jackson.
    One thing I’m happy about is how they fashioned Jake Odorizzi’s contract to fit under the cap. I just hope he can be a dependable starter this year for us.

    Liked by 2 people

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