At 24-11, the Astros are the best team in baseball through the season’s first five and a half weeks — a blistering start that, according to GM Jeff Luhnow, will allow the team to remain patient on the summer trade market. As Luhnow explains to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, he doesn’t feel any urgency pushing him to rush into the summer trade market. “We jumped on Scott Kazmir two years ago early in the trade season, and there’s pros and cons to that,” said Luhnow. “…but other pitchers came available — namely, David Price — that had not really been available early, and so if you really want to know what the landscape looks like completely, you kind of have to wait until the end.” Luhnow tells McTaggart that he still plans to be highly active in trade talks from now through the non-waiver deadline, but the GM doesn’t sound anxious to augment his club, especially with Collin McHugh and pitching prospect David Paulino on the mend from injury. “As long as we continue to play well, there’s no urgency to solve a problem right now.”
A bit more on the Astros…
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports takes an excellent look at Astros powerhouse Chris Devenski — one of the game’s most quietly dominant relievers. Devenski, nicknamed “The Dragon” by his manager in Double-A (Houston will give away bobbleheads of Devenski riding a dragon later this season), Devenski has followed an unlikely path to his current status as one of Major League Baseball’s best bullpen weapons. The right-hander was a 25th-round pick by the White Sox back in 2011 before being dealt to Houston as a player to be named later in the 2012 trade that sent right-hander Brett Myers to Chicago. Devenski wasn’t protected from the Rule 5 Draft by the Astros following a solid-but-not-dominant 2015 season in Double-A, which Luhnow describes to Rosenthal as “a bad decision with an OK outcome.” Luhnow concedes that Houston took “too much of a risk” in leaving Devenski unprotected, though he’s surely thankful for how it worked out. In 131 1/3 MLB innings since Opening Day 2016, Devenski has a 2.12 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9. Teammates Brian McCann, Josh Reddick, Will Harris, George Springer and others all rave about Devenski’s talent and work ethic, and Rosenthal’s column (which I’d highly recommend reading in full), is stuffed with quotes effusing praise for “The Dragon.”
- Top prospect David Paulino (mentioned by Luhnow as an “important piece” in the McTaggart interview above) made his 2017 debut at Triple-A Fresno after missing five weeks with a bone bruise in his elbow, as Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle writes. Paulino finished the 2016 season in the Majors and opened the season on the Major League disabled list, so he’s technically pitching on a rehab assignment. Based on Kaplan’s writing, it doesn’t sound as if Paulino will be an immediate option for the team once his rehab clock is up; Kaplan notes that he’ll eventually be activated and formally optioned to Fresno. In the meantime, Paulino will continue accruing MLB service time.
- In light of Rosenthal’s Devenski column and Paulino’s return to the mound, I’ll also point out that Paulino was acquired as a player to be named later in a trade for a reliever; Houston nabbed Paulino, who entered the season as a consensus top 100 prospect, as a PTBNL in the 2013 trade that sent Jose Veras to the Tigers. At the time, Paulino was a 19-year-old GCL prospect that was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He’s very clearly elevated his stock, having tossed 90 innings with a flat 2.00 ERA, 10.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 across two minor league levels in 2016 (plus five more shutout innings in the Arizona Fall League).