Why the Houston Astros Don't Need Another Starter

Many have argued the Astros are not serious contenders because of their starting pitching--- but trust me, the Astros will be just fine.

Ladies and gentleman, baseball season is upon us. Just two weeks from today, pitchers and catchers will report to the Astros new complex in West Palm Beach, Florida for the start of spring training.

The Astros had a hell of an offseason, adding multiple players that have pushed us into the World Series conversation. Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Josh Reddick, Nori Aoki—all of these studs will join Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to form what should be one of the most potent offenses in baseball.

But many have pointed to one component of our roster as reason to doubt we can make the World Series—starting pitching. Over the past few months many analysts have said the Astros must add another dominant starter to make themselves serious World Series contenders. There were rumors of deals being made for Chris Archer, Jose Quintana, and several other #1 starters. But with so little time until the start of the season, it looks like the Astros will be sticking with what they've got to start the season. Jeff Lunhow essentially put an end to the conversation last week, saying our current roster is “probably the roster we’re going to have to start the season.”

So, are the Astros serious World Series contenders with our current starting rotation? Let's look at our returning starters:

1. Dallas Keuchel

2. Lance McCullers

3. Collin McHugh

4. Mike Fiers

Apart from McCullers, who was sidelined after just 14 starts last season with an elbow injury, none of our returning starters are coming off great seasons. Keuchel went from a 2.48 ERA in his Cy-Young 2015 season to a 4.55 ERA in 2016. McHugh went from 19-7/3.89 to 13-10/4.34. Fiers’ went from a solid 3.69 ERA to 4.48.

So what happened to our starters in 2016? Will they bounce back come April? Honestly, there’s really no telling. Pitchers have up and down years, and there’s no way of predicting how these returning starters will perform this season. They might improve, they might get worse. We’ll have to wait and see.

But more likely than not, at least some of them will improve upon their numbers in 2016. We know Keuchel has the potential, and McHugh has been a reliable part of the rotation for 3 years now. Even Fiers has shown flashes of brilliance—remember that no-hitter?

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But even in the highly unlikely scenario that none of our returning starters improve, we still have options. Francis Martes, our #1 prospect and 29th overall prospect in MLB, is waiting in the wings ready to contribute. The 21-year-old has an upper 90’s fastball, a solid curve and change. He posted a 3.30 ERA in 22 starts last season in AA Corpus Christi. He’ll likely start the season in AAA, but will eventually be called up if he continues to improve.


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Then there's David Paulino, another young prospect with a fastball in the upper 90’s. The 6'7 22 year old made 3 appearances with the Astros last season, but spent most of the year in AA where he went 5-2 with a 1.83 ERA.

Paulino has the potential to be a dominant starter in the MLB if he can develop his off-speed stuff. With a great Spring Training performance he could crack the Major League roster, but more likely than not he will start in AAA along with Martes. Regardless, he’s another option available to step into the rotation whenever needed.  

The Astros also acquired Charlie Morton this offseason, an under-the-radar signing that adds even more depth to our rotation. The seasoned veteran has spent the past 7 seasons as a big league starter with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He’s battled a series of injuries, but posted consistent numbers when healthy. His best seasons with the Pirates came in 2013 when he went 7-4 with a 3.26 ERA.  He’s likely to be the frontrunner for the 5th spot in the rotation this spring.

And don't forget about Chris Devenski, the long reliever who was arguably the most solid pitcher in the Astros' bullpen last season.


Devo has experience as a starter, having spent most of his Minor League career in the starting rotation. He posted a 2.16 ERA in 108 innings last year for the ‘Stros, mostly as a reliever but also making 5 starts.

In addition to all the aforementioned players, the Astros still have other options. Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz and Brad Peacock are all young pitchers who have experience starting in the bigs.

Despite what the media might say, the Astros have so many starters it wouldn’t even make sense to add another one. Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Collin McHugh are shoe-ins for the rotation, but there are so many other options-- Charlie Morton, Mike Fiers, Francis Martes, David Paulino, Joe Musgrove, Brad Peacock, Michael Feliz, Chris Devenski. That’s a total of 11 pitchers with the potential to be solid members of our rotation. I’m fairly confident at least 5 of them will step up and emerge as quality starters this season. All they need to do is keep the game close for around six innings-- after that, I'm fairly confident Gregorson, Harris and Giles can take care of the rest.

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