HOUSTON -- A flurry of injuries and some underperformances among their pitchers is forcing the Astros to turn to right-handed prospect Jose Urquidy -- the team’s 29th-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline -- to start Tuesday’s series opener against the Rockies at Coors Field. It will be his Major League debut.
Urquidy, who had pitched as Jose Hernandez prior to this season, is not on the 40-man roster and will have his contract purchased from Triple-A Round Rock prior to Tuesday’s game. A corresponding 40-man roster will be announced then. The Astros could move Corbin Martin, who suffered a serious elbow injury a week ago at Triple-A, to the 60-day injured list, but he would have to be added to the Major League roster first.
Urquidy is taking the roster spot of Brad Peacock, who was placed on the injured list Friday. Houston's options to replace him were limited with prospects Forrest Whitley and Martin injured in the Minor Leagues and struggling lefty Framber Valdez having been sent down last week.
Cy Sneed, who threw six innings in relief of Peacock in his Major League debut on Thursday, was a candidate to start Tuesday, along with Rogelio Armenteros and Brady Rodgers, but the Astros decided to give the 24-year-old Urquidy a shot. He will be the eighth pitcher to start a game for Houston this year.
After missing all of the 2017 season following Tommy John surgery, Urquidy started at Class A Short-Season Tri-City last year before reaching Class A Buies Creek. He began this season at Double-A Corpus Christi before being moved to Round Rock. In 76 2/3 innings combined this year between both levels, Urquidy has 104 strikeouts and 15 walks with a 3.40 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP.
The Astros are trying to patch their rotation together around a pair of off-days this week and will try to reset at the All-Star break. Wade Miley will pitch Wednesday in Denver, and Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are scheduled to start Friday and Saturday, respectively, against the Angels in Houston. The starter for Sunday’s first-half finale remains up in the air.
Valdez starts Monday for Round Rock and could be brought back to pitch on Sunday, but a strong performance by Urquidy could earn him another start. Peacock is expected to return to the rotation after the All-Star break.