ARLINGTON -- With veteran right-hander Brad Peacock headed back to Houston to be examined by team doctors on Monday after experiencing “intermittent soreness” in his right shoulder, the Astros’ thin starting pitching depth has put them in a bind.
The Astros will go with an opener for Monday's series opener against the Angels, starting hard-throwing Josh James to be followed by lefty Framber Valdez. Peacock was originally scheduled to start the game. Valdez has had trouble in the first inning this year, posting an 11.57 ERA in the first inning in his five starts.
Tuesday's starter remains to be determined. Rookies Jose Urquidy, who started two games before the All-Star break, and Cy Sneed, who pitched well in two long relief outings with Houston, are in the rotation at Triple-A Round Rock, but won't have been down the required 10 days. Brady Rodgers and Cionel Pérez, both of whom have been in the big leagues this year, are hurt. One option would be Rogelio Armenteros, but he would also be on three days' rest after throwing six scoreless innings on Friday for the Express.
The Peacock injury setback underscores the Astros’ desperate need to add a starting pitcher prior to the July 31 Trade Deadline. They have a rock-solid top of the rotation with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley, but injury and underperformance have wrought havoc on the rest of the rotation.
“We thought that he was going to be able to pitch. He thought he was going to be able to pitch,” manager AJ Hinch said of Peacock. “We even made some moves that coincided with that idea by sending Sneed down, by sending Urquidy down, which has complicated things a little bit. We want to get him right. It doesn’t matter how long he has to be out, as long as he’s healthy. It was disappointing news for him and for us.”
Hinch said he would talk with president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow to formulate a plan for Tuesday.
“Jeff and I are going to talk about it and look at all the options, from a bullpen day to the options that we have,” Hinch said. “We have a couple of guys on the roster that we can talk about. We also could overload it with a bunch of arms and have a bullpen day. We have 48 hours to figure it out. We didn’t plan for this, given it was unexpected because we thought Brad was going to be able to go.”
Houston’s pitching depth suffered a huge blow when top prospects Forrest Whitley and Corbin Martin went down with injuries earlier this year. Martin wound up having Tommy John surgery, and Whitley was sent to West Palm Beach, Fla., after struggling at Round Rock in what Luhnow called a “reset” to his season.