Those who bought in on Collin McHugh in 2016 were left mostly disappointed as he turned in damaging ratios along with modest totals in wins and strikeouts. However, it was not a disastrous season by any means, and he in fact improved in several areas, most notably with his strikeout rate (22.2 percent) -- a rebound supported by his third straight season with a swinging-strike rate north of 10 percent. Unfortunately, a pair of disastrous outings (13 combined earned runs over the span of two innings) marred his overall numbers. He threw roughly 20 fewer innings than he did in 2015 despite making one additional start as manager A.J. Hinch was quick to give him the hook on his off nights. Home runs were a problem (25 allowed), but an improvement there in 2017 could return McHugh to mixed-league prominence. While there is some uncertainty at the back of the Houston rotation, McHugh should be secure in his role entering spring training.
McHugh is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut Monday and throw three or four innings, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. McHugh, slowed by a dead arm this spring, is still likely to begin the season with a short DL stint as he builds up his regular velocity, but Monday should provide a great sign of his progression. A firmer timetable may become clear depending on how this next week progresses, but it appears Joe Musgrove and Mike Fiers will both see Opening Week starts if McHugh misses extended time.
McHugh may not be able to build up his arm in time to take the ball during the first week of the regular season, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports. "It's looking more and more likely that (McHugh) may be late for the season," manager A.J. Hinch said. Hinch is not making a definitive declaration, but having McHugh start the season on the 10-day disabled list will allow the right-hander to build up his inning and pitch count. He most recently pitched three innings Wednesday and is scheduled to throw early next week, but would be limited to four innings and 60-65 pitches. That's a tight schedule to be ready for one of the first five games of the regular season. If McHugh opens on the DL, Joe Musgrove and Mike Fiers will make up the back end of the rotation.
McHugh allowed one run on two hits while striking out five over three innings in a minor league game Wednesday, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports. McHugh's on a tight schedule to be ready for the first rotation of the season. The right-hander's building his pitch count following a delay due to a dead arm period. He threw 41 pitches and will have another two opportunities to increase that. The prudent approach would be to have him begin the season on the 10-day disabled list and back-date the DL assignment. He would miss the first turn and be ready to go for the rotation's second turn.
McHugh is behind other Astros' starters and may not get enough work in before the start of the regular season, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports. "We're cutting it really close," manager A.J. Hinch said. "I think we'll know more once he gets a couple more outings under his belt. But he's just behind. He doesn't have any problems anymore. It's a readiness question." McHugh was delayed early in camp with what was described as a dead arm, but it was more due to his rotator cuff. At any rate, he's thrown one minor league game and is scheduled to pitch another one Wednesday, but can't afford any setbacks. The Astros may just have him begin the season on the disabled list. Until McHugh's ready to pitch, Joe Musgrove and Mike Fiers can hold down the back end of the rotation.
McHugh will pitch in a minor league game Wednesday, Glenn Sattell of MLB.com reports. McHugh pitched two innings Friday in what Sattell referred to as a simulated game while Jodie Wagner of the Houston Chronicle called it a minor league game. Whatever the terminology, McHugh came out of Friday's outing well and is on a schedule toward the regular season.