It’s time to start asking questions about 2020, such as who the Houston Astros fifth starter will be.
The Houston Astros are having a competition for the fifth spot in their starting rotation. The opportunity was created by All-Star, pitcher Gerrit Cole signing with the Yankees, and Wade Miley signing with the Reds. So, who will take the Astros fifth spot in the starting pitching rotation?
Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke are locked in at the top two spots. Lance McCullers Jr. is back after spending 2019 on the injured list due to Tommy John surgery. Jose Urquidy is only 24, but he started 7 games in his 9 Astros’ appearances last year. Urquidy possessed a 3.95 ERA in 41.0 innings, and is guaranteed a spot in the rotation in 2020.
Houston Astros Fifth Starter: Brad Peacock?
With past experience as both a starter and reliever in 8 MLB seasons, Brad Peacock offers a very viable solution to serve in the Astros 2020 rotation. However, it’s unclear when he will be able to come back from injury. Peacock has been dealing with nerve issues in his neck, that recently resurfaced prior to spring training. If he can get healthy, he’s the front-runner to earn the spot in the rotation.
Signed out of Western Oklahoma State University, Josh James was selected by Houston in the 34th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Last year, James went 5-1 in 49 games, including one spot start. James finished 2019 with a 4.70 ERA, and 1.32 WHIP. If Peacock can’t get healthy by opening day, James had a solid chance at earning the fifth spot.
Could Framber Valdez be the Houston Astros fifth starter? Valdez, a lefty, appeared in 26 games for the Astros last season, including eight starts. He finished the season with a record of 4-7 and a 5.86 ERA 70.2 innings. He yielded 5.6 walks per nine innings, which is problematic. His 1.67 WHIP is also concerning, and has to improve his control significantly to have a chance at that fifth spot.
In a three-player trade that added more competition to the back end of an unsettled rotation, the Astros brought Austin Pruitt home. The Astros acquired Pruitt, a former University of Houston standout from the Tampa Bay Rays in the offseason. In three seasons with the Rays, Pruitt pitched to 4.87 ERA in 199.2 innings, primarily out of the bullpen. Pruitt has an off chance at earning the spot the season.
The Wild Card: Forrest Whitley
Astros’ rookie pitcher, Forrest Whitley is another candidate to earn the spot in the rotation. Whitley was signed by the Astros out of the 2016 draft where was selected with the No. 17 overall. At 22 years old, it will be interesting to see if he finally gets the call-up to the major leagues.
Whoever takes the fifth spot has some huge shoes to fill. If the Astros can have a reliable fifth option in their rotation, it will go a long way towards winning games.
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