McHugh nears return to Astros rotation

July 17th, 2017

HOUSTON -- Following a bullpen session scheduled for Tuesday, 's rehab program will appear to be complete.

McHugh tossed approximately 90 pitches in his fourth rehab start Sunday for Double-A Corpus Christi -- 69 pitches in six innings followed by 20-25 controlled pitches in the bullpen. The right-hander allowed only one unearned run. He also struck out a pair and walked one in what was likely his final rehab start.

The next step? Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he hoped to re-enter McHugh -- who has missed all 92 games this season with a posterior impingement in his throwing elbow -- into Houston's starting rotation for its weekend series at Baltimore, beginning on Friday.

"That was kind of the last test," McHugh said. "Got through six innings last night and felt good. There's not a whole lot more steps between here and pitching in a big league game. So hopefully we make that happen soon."

After McHugh's bullpen session Tuesday, the Astros will evaluate their options, including where to insert McHugh into the rotation and who to remove as a result.

"Then we need to make an assessment on what the next plan is," Hinch said. "We want him to re-enter our rotation at some point this weekend, if all goes well with the bullpen [session]. But we'll determine when the day and what's next for him after that session."

"We've got a lot of guys who can pitch," McHugh said. "No one wants to give up a spot, especially when you're throwing the ball well. It'll be a conversation, but we'll figure it out here in the next few days."

McHugh said he was consistently hitting 90-92 mph with his fastball in Corpus Christi, and the speed of his secondary pitches are "about where they should be," he said.

"From that perspective, I feel like my body's responding pretty well and the rehab has done its job," McHugh said.