Astros righty Collin McHugh has been shut down for six weeks with a posterior impingement of his right elbow, the team has announced. An MRI did not reveal problems with his ulnar collateral ligament. McHugh will avoid surgery and will be reevaluated after six weeks. McHugh had begun the season on the DL due to right shoulder tendinitis, and he was pulled from a Triple-A rehab start earlier this week with elbow discomfort.
The 29-year-old McHugh posted a 4.34 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 184 2/3 innings with the Astros last year, continuing a solid three-year run that began when he posted a 2.73 ERA and finished fourth in AL Rookie Of The Year voting after the Astros claimed him from the Rockies in the 2013-14 offseason. He was set to open 2017 once again in the Houston rotation. In his absence, the Astros will continue to rely on their depth, with both Joe Musgrove and Mike Fiers joining Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton. There’s also Chris Devenski and long reliever Brad Peacock, both of whom have MLB starting experience.
In Triple-A Fresno, the Astros also have top prospect Francis Martes, although they might like him to get some experience at that level before joining the big-league rotation. Righty Brady Rodgers also appears to be a reasonable depth option.
Significant trades rarely occur this early in the season, so it stands to reason that the Astros might wait before making a huge move to replace McHugh. It’s worth noting, though, that they were connected to the White Sox’ Jose Quintana throughout the offseason and have more than enough young talent to complete a major trade. In lieu of that, it perhaps wouldn’t be surprising if they attempted some sort of minor transaction to round out their starting pitching depth.