Injured Astros right-hander Brad Peacock began a rehab assignment at the Double-A level on Wednesday, Mark Berman of Fox 26 reports. Barring setbacks, Peacock could slot back into the Astros’ rotation by July 15, per Jake Kaplan of The Athletic (subscription link).
Peacock went down June 28 with with shoulder inflammation, which always sounds ominous for a pitcher. The fact that he’s on track to return within a three-week span is a victory for the Astros, who’ve seen Peacock offer fine production in a full-time starting role this season. After making 60 of his 61 appearances out of the Astros’ bullpen in 2018, Peacock has totaled 15 starts in 17 outings this year, pitching to a 4.13 ERA/4.15 FIP with 9.42 K/9 against 2.65 BB/9 in 85 frames.
The 31-year-old Peacock’s emergence as a credible complement to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley has been an important development for Houston this season. After all, the club has had extreme difficulty finding another dependable starter to fill out its rotation. Collin McHugh joined Peacock in moving back to the Astros’ starting staff to begin the season, but the typically solid McHugh floundered there and has since returned to their bullpen. Top 100 prospect Corbin Martin, who initially replaced McHugh, struggled in his first taste of major league action before undergoing Tommy John surgery last week. Framber Valdez and Jose Urquidy, the other starters the Astros have tried, have also failed to lay claim to a spot.
Although no one has stepped up to give the Astros a fifth capable starter, they still possess the American League’s second-best record (57-33) and a 7 1/2-game advantage in their division. Even with Peacock on the way back, however, the Astros figure to add another established starter before the July 31 trade deadline. In fact, indications are the club’s going big-game hunting for another front-of-the-rotation arm to join Verlander and Cole. Noah Syndergaard (link), Trevor Bauer (link), Madison Bumgarner (link), Matthew Boyd (link) and Marcus Stroman (link) have all reportedly landed on the Astros’ radar.