Astros right-hander Scott Feldman will be out for “approximately six weeks” following arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee, the team announced on Friday. The 32-year-old injured his knee while fielding a grounder in his most recent start. Right-hander Michael Feliz, one of the organization’s most highly regarded pitching prospects, has been promoted from Double-A to take Feldman’s spot on the roster.
Rotation depth was already an area that many expect the Astros to address on the trade market this summer, based on previous comments from GM Jeff Luhnow and from some struggles at the back end of the rotation. While a glance at Feldman’s ERA might not inspire much confidence, he’s pitched significantly better since a disastrous second start of the season. Overall, he has worked to a 4.47 ERA (3.42 FIP, 3.62 xFIP) in 48 1/3 innings over a stretch of eight starts.
Feldman has served as a nice veteran complement to the less experienced Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh. To this point in the season, Keuchel has looked the part of a bona fide ace yet again. And while McHugh hasn’t repeated last season’s breakout numbers, he’s enjoyed solid peripheral stats and is still sporting a relatively serviceable 4.24 ERA.
The question for the Astros is who will fill in the rotation behind Keuchel, McHugh and Feldman. So far, Roberto Hernandez has soaked up 54 2/3 innings, though he’s done so with a 4.77 ERA and peripherals that suggest he’ll continue to produce at that clip. Lance McCullers has stepped into the rotation and impressed over a pair of starts, but he’s largely unproven and hasn’t thrown more than 104 innings in a pro season since being selected 41st overall back in 2012. The Astros have also cycled through Asher Wojciechowski, Sam Deduno, Brad Peacock and Brett Oberholtzer at the back of the rotation with little success to show. (The latter three of that quartet are now each on the disabled list, as well.)
A wide variety of pitching options figures to be available this summer, if the Astros elect to go that route. Cole Hamels represents a long-term, top-of-the-rotation option, whereas teammate Aaron Harang would be a reliable, low-cost rental. Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza’s names have both been mentioned as trade candidates as well, although neither veteran is performing at the moment. Scott Kazmir and Johnny Cueto represent potentially more impactful rental players that would, of course, come with a higher price tag, in terms of prospects.