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Hinch not worried about starting rotation

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Astros were one of the few clubs who sparked conversation after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline for the moves they didn't make instead of the one they did make -- particularly when it pertains to the starting rotation.

Houston did acquire a pitcher with starting experience at the Deadline in Blue Jays left-hander Francisco Liriano, but the Astros have used him as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen. In the meantime, a starting rotation that ranked sixth-best in baseball with a 3.82 ERA in the season's first half entered Thursday's game with a 5.76 ERA that is 26th in the Majors since the All-Star break.

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CHICAGO -- The Astros were one of the few clubs who sparked conversation after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline for the moves they didn't make instead of the one they did make -- particularly when it pertains to the starting rotation.

Houston did acquire a pitcher with starting experience at the Deadline in Blue Jays left-hander Francisco Liriano, but the Astros have used him as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen. In the meantime, a starting rotation that ranked sixth-best in baseball with a 3.82 ERA in the season's first half entered Thursday's game with a 5.76 ERA that is 26th in the Majors since the All-Star break.

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Astros manager A.J. Hinch said the outside clamoring for an extra arm in the rotation -- which has grown louder since the Deadline -- shouldn't be a concern.

"I think the starting pitchers should take offense to it," Hinch said. "We roll guys out there that are trying to do exactly what everybody says they can't do or we don't have. We don't spend a lot of time talking about what other people say about us. I think we have great chemistry, great culture, a lot of pride and a ton of competitive guys.

"At the end of the season, we'll be able to evaluate exactly what we were or what we are or where we're going. I think to spend a lot of time and energy on that stuff, it's probably wasteful. We've got to find other ways to get better other than to defend ourselves to the external world."

The Astros have dealt with injuries, both with star position players such as Carlos Correa to bullpen arms like Will Harris and Tony Sipp. The rotation has taken some of the biggest hits, however. Former American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel has struggled coming off a neck injury, including allowing a season-worst eight runs in four innings Tuesday. Collin McHugh, who missed most of the first four months of the season, allowed seven runs in his fourth start of the season in Wednesday's 7-1 loss to the White Sox. Lance McCullers Jr. currently finds himself on the disabled list with back discomfort.

As the pieces find themselves and his club becomes healthier, Hinch said the rotation will find itself again. If the group does begin rolling -- whether they go out and add another starting pitching piece or not -- it could revitalize a group that put together a double-digit lead in the AL West and was the runaway best team in the AL in the first half.

"When you roll out quality start after quality start, you can put together really good runs of 10 games," said Hinch. "You can go 7-3, 8-2, 9-1 or even 10-0 and most of the time when those good stretches happen, your starting pitchers are doing their job and they're doing it well."

Worth noting

• The Astros named infielder Abraham Toro-Hernandez and right-hander Rogelio Armenteros as the club's Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively. Toro-Hernandez hit .315 across two levels in July, and knocked homers in each of his first two games with Class A Quad Cities. Armenteros won five games and posted a 2.86 ERA with Triple-A Fresno.

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Astros on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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