McHugh pleased with stuff in spring debut

Right-hander hopes to get in another start or two before rejoining team

March 27th, 2017

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The first and last Grapefruit League appearance of the season for Astros right-hander was a mixed bag. McHugh, who's behind as Spring Training winds down because of arm fatigue suffered earlier in camp, threw 47 pitches in 1 2/3 innings in a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals on Monday at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

McHugh, likely to start the season on the disabled list, was sitting 88-90 mph with his fastball and allowed three runs and five hits. He gave up three consecutive singles in the first inning before issuing a one-out walk in the second, which was followed by an RBI triple by . Cardinals pitcher followed with an RBI single to make it 3-2.

"Stuff-wise, felt alright; the velocity is still getting there," McHugh said. "It's just not game-ready, not season-ready yet, obviously. That's going to come. That's one of the last things to come, I think. I felt pretty good with some of my offspeed pitches, threw a couple of good breaking balls, threw a couple of good cutters and worked from there."

While the rest of his teammates will head to Houston following Wednesday's Grapefruit League finale, McHugh will stay back to pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday. He'll likely have at least one start on rehab assignment to start the season.

"He's behind, which is not all that bad with where he's at personally, but where we are in the schedule it makes it really difficult for him to build up so quickly," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Obviously, finding the adrenaline for the first time, seeing a Major League lineup for the first time, ran his pitch count up quite high for just a couple of ups. So it's a good test for him and also a good reminder it's a methodical process to get ready."

McHugh threw 12 to 15 more pitches in the bullpen following his outing to simulate another inning. During Spring Training, starting pitchers put more of an emphasis on innings, or "ups and downs," than they do pitch count.

"It'll be big to recover the next couple of days, get another bullpen under my belt and throw again in about five days and keep building toward a full game," McHugh said.

With McHugh out to start the season, both Joe Musgrove and Mike Fiers -- who were competing for the fifth spot in the rotation -- will be in the rotation to start the season.