Pitching help among Astros' Deadline needs

July 15th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Brian McTaggart’s Astros Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

With his first MLB Draft as Astros general manager in his rearview mirror, Dana Brown has turned his attention to the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline. The Astros hit the All-Star break two games behind the first-place Rangers in the American League West, which is a feather in their cap considering the number of injuries they had in the first half.

Nowhere were the Astros impacted more by injury than in their starting rotation, with veteran Lance McCullers Jr. getting hurt early in the spring and starters Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy going down on consecutive nights a month into the season. McCullers (forearm) and Garcia (Tommy John) had season-ending surgery, and Urquidy is on a Minor League rehab assignment and could return early next month.

The Astros have gotten solid work from rookies J.P. France and Hunter Brown, along with Brandon Bielak, but with Cristian Javier suffering from fatigue near the All-Star break, there’s a clear need for another arm.

“We’re entertaining a lot of different things we’d like to add to the club, if possible,” Dana Brown said Friday. “We know the price tags are high and we know that there’s not many things on the shelf. There’s not many players out there, and there’s a lot of buyers right now. What we’re being told by a lot of clubs is, ‘Hey, give us to the end of the week, we’ll see what things look like.’ I’ve talked to multiple clubs that told me that. We’re going to have a lot of meetings next week leading up to it and we’ll be ready to pull the trigger if we get something that makes sense.”

The Astros reached the American League Championship Series the last six years and advanced to the previous two World Series, with ace lefty Framber Valdez, McCullers and Javier as key contributors. Who knows how much the extra workload has contributed to the injuries, but the Astros’ rotation was very healthy last year and held up well into November.

“When you go deep in the postseason year after year … you can get worn out in the course of a season, and if we can add an arm that would be great,” Brown said. “I just don’t know if there’s going to be one available that’s worth it.”

Which brings us to Spencer Arrighetti, the team’s No. 9-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline. He’s on the radar for a second-half callup, especially if Houston can’t swing a deal for another starter. Arrighetti had a 4.15 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings at Double-A Corpus Christi before getting promoted last month to Sugar Land, where he has a 4.50 ERA and 15 strikeouts in just 12 innings.

“The beauty is you’ve got a guy that’s throwing well in Arrighetti, who may get an opportunity if he continues to throw well,” Brown said. “If he comes up here and throws well, it would be like acquiring a player at the Deadline. That’s the beauty of your prospects; you use them instead of going out and getting other players and throwing them away. If Arrighetti can come up here and fill out that spot, that would be great. We hope he keeps throwing well and we’ll keep an eye on him.”