Astros righty Josh James has been diagnosed with a strained right quad, skipper A.J. Hinch told reporters including Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle (links to Twitter). The injury “probably takes [James] out of the conversation” for the club’s final rotation spot, per Hinch.
Fortunately, there’s no reason to believe this injury is of long-term concern. To the contrary, James will remain a candidate to break camp on the MLB roster in a relief role. James, who is days away from his 26th birthday, showed eye-popping stuff in both capacities during a brief but exciting 2018 debut.
So, how will the club fill out its rotation? Hinch specifically ruled out some of the club’s most-hyped young arms, making clear that Forrest Whitley, Corbin Martin, and J.B. Bukauskas are still not prepared to jump up to the MLB level (at least as starters).
Rome suggests that there is still a fair bit of competition. Brad Peacock is certainly the most experienced option. He’ll try to fend off younger hurlers Framber Valdez, Brady Rodgers, Cionel Perez, and Rogelio Armenteros.
Until he signs elsewhere, of course, southpaw Dallas Keuchel remains at least a hypothetical possibility. The veteran starter and the Astros’ brass have kept the door open to a return in their public comments, though it seems he’s still hoping to secure a larger commitment from another club.