5:12pm: The Astros announced that they’ve optioned Martin to Triple-A. It’s not clear who’ll step into his spot in the rotation, as the corresponding move was the recall of lefty reliever Reymin Guduan. As The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan points out (via Twitter), they’ll need a fifth starter on Saturday but can get through the next turn in the rotation with only four starters due to an off day next week.
11:05am: Though the Astros aren’t committing to a rotation change just yet, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle writes that one may not be far off. Corbin Martin has not made it past the fourth inning since his debut outing.
Martin’s first showing was a good one. But in his four intervening starts, he has allowed 10 earned runs on 20 hits with a 10:11 K/BB ratio in 14 innings.
The ’Stros are showing a fair bit of patience, but obviously won’t be satisfied with these sorts of results. Martin has struggled to get ahead of hitters, keep his pitch count down, and stay in the zone. And though the organization can afford some added audition time with a nine-game division lead, it also will be wary of tempting fate while several of its best players are on the injured list.
Skipper A.J. Hinch affirmed that the organization believes in Martin as a long-term option, citing his stuff and “mentality” as reasons for a “really good” long-term outlook. But Hinch says that for Martin “to stay in the rotation and be effective, not just for the foreseeable future but his entire career, it’s important for him to mix in some good outings and make sure he can get us deep in games.” Whether Martin will get one more chance to turn the corner remains to be seen.
The ’Stros certainly have alternatives. Collin McHugh would be an obvious choice, though he’s on the IL. Josh James, Framber Valdez, and Brady Rodgers could all slide over from the bullpen. It’d certainly be easy enough for the team to piggyback a few of those pitchers to get the length needed for a game or two, perhaps allowing one or more pitchers to stretch out fully on the fly.
Looking down on the farm, there are two 40-man starters — Cionel Perez and Rogelio Armenteros — camped out at Triple-A. Neither has been particularly impressive to this point of the season, at least in terms of earned runs, though both have swing and miss capabilities. It might have been hoped that top prospect Forrest Whitley would be ready for a taste of the big leagues, but he has been hammered early on at Round Rock and doesn’t seem likely to be tapped in the near future.