Astros righty Corbin Martin is down for the rest of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters including Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Martin had been pitching at Triple-A on optional assignment after debuting in the majors earlier this year.
Entering the 2019 campaign, the 23-year-old Martin was graded as one of the game’s top 100 prospects and seen by the Houston organization as a key near-term depth piece. He already took five MLB starts for the club in just his third season as a professional.
Martin wasn’t able to establish himself in the Astros rotation, working to a 5.59 ERA with 19 strikeouts and a dozen walks over 19 1/3 innings. He was done in by the long ball, coughing up eight. But Martin is hardly the first young hurler to have some early hiccups and had turned in good results at Triple-A prior to his promotion.
This injury dents both the depth and the upside of the Houston pitching staff, a strong unit that nevertheless seems a likely area to upgrade at the trade deadline. The loss of Martin comes amidst ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brad Peacock. There are plenty of other options to patch things up for the time being — Jose Urquidy just got the call; Framber Valdez and Cionel Perez are among those available at Triple-A — but it’s hard to imagine the ’Stros won’t look far and wide for new arms. Indeed, it seems that pursuit has already begun.
All indications are that the injury occurred after Martin’s demotion; Luhnow specifically said so this afternoon, in fact. (Via Rome, on Twitter.) If that is indeed the case, then Martin will not accrue MLB service time while he is sidelined. Given the typical year-plus layoff occasioned by a TJ procedure, it’s likely that Martin won’t be seen again at the game’s highest level until late in 2020 or early in the 2021 campaign.