Collin McHugh’s recent struggles have only sharpened the Astros’ need for starting pitching help, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. McHugh has a 7.77 ERA over his last four starts, leaving ace Dallas Keuchel as the only truly reliable rotation option, as it’s asking a lot of rookies Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez to immediately help carry a playoff-contending team (though McCullers has been outstanding in six starts.) Here’s some more from around baseball as we head into the new week…
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington tells David Manel of the Bucs Dugout blog that the club will again “walk that balance between now and the future” in making any deadline additions. “We want to do everything we can to put this club in a position to make the playoffs this year, win a World Series this year. At the same time, we want to be able to be in that position as many years in the future as we can,” Huntington said. Pittsburgh will face a lot of competition in making deals only a few teams are truly out of the race at this point; as Huntington puts it, “this is absolutely a sellers market, at this point in time.”
- The rising costs of youth baseball has led to fewer young athletes choosing the game, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. The Pirates value having versatile players who are able to play multiple positions, and the best fits for this model are those who played baseball and other sports growing up, so they have a larger athletic toolbox. With more youngsters specializing only in one sport growing up, however, these well-rounded athletes are harder to find.
- Despite the Reds’ struggles, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer doesn’t think manager Bryan Price’s job is in jeopardy. “It would be hard and foolish to fire Bryan Price given all the injuries” the Reds have had to deal with, Fay writes.
- Most scouts feel that the Reds wouldn’t trade Aroldis Chapman “if push came to shove” and they became deadline sellers, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports. There hasn’t been any indication that the Reds are willing to deal Chapman, though his name has at least been floated in talks with the Nationals.
- Also from Cafardo, some scouts following the Reds have mentioned Brandon Phillips, but while he’s having a good season, Cafardo feels the second baseman’s large contract is still a deterrent to a trade.
- The Padres, White Sox and Indians are three of the many clubs still relatively close to a postseason spot but unsure if they’ll be able to make a legitimate run, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Insider subscription required). San Diego’s situation is particularly tricky given their major winter expenditures and rival evaluators doubt that the Padres would engage in any major sell-off if they continue to struggle.
- Top Phillies pitching prospect Aaron Nola has been promoted to Triple-A, the club announced earlier today. Nola, the seventh overall pick of the 2014 draft, posted a 1.88 ERA and 6.56 K/BB rate over 76 2/3 innings at Double-A this season, with the only minor red flag being a middling 6.9 K/9. At this point, Nola seems well on pace to earn a promotion to the Show late this season.