11:15am: McHugh will indeed be placed on the injured list today, tweets Chandler Rome. Jose Urquidy will return from Triple-A to take his place on the roster. The team has not yet announced the roster move.
9:29am: Collin McHugh was pulled from yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays after facing just two batters. Manager A.J. Hinch noticed a lack of life from McHugh’s pitches, which is backed up by diminished velocity on both his heater and slider, writes Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle.
The hope would be that the couple ticks of missing velo are a single game aberration or simple fatigue, though McHugh does have one IL stint this season for elbow soreness. The Astros have not indicated an injury as of yet. While this may not light your hair on fire, McHugh’s status will be worth monitoring as the Astros look to identify who in the pen besides Will Harris and Roberto Osuna can be trusted come playoff time.
With a gauntlet of Cy Young candidates in their rotation and a lineup that legitimately resembles an All-Star team, the Astros don’t have many question marks entering the season’s final month. The bullpen, however, is one potential area of concern if setup man Ryan Pressly isn’t able to return in time for the postseason.
Houston will use September to gauge the readiness of their remaining potential playoff arms, of which a healthy McHugh would be a leading candidate, despite a down year. Joe Biagini, Chris Devenski, Hector Rondon, and Joe Smith will get their turns in coming days while Pressly, Aaron Sanchez, Brad Peacock and Josh James make their way back from the injured list.
There’s no shortage of potential options for the Astros, but they still need to figure out which seven or eight guys will make the playoff roster. Like McHugh, Devenski’s 5.34 ERA/4.78 FIP are higher than we’ve seen in years past. Rondon has a 3.81 ERA and 92 career saves for the Cubs and Astros, but both clubs removed him from the closer’s role and appeared hesitant to use him in crunch time. Biagini’s had just 7 appearances since being acquired at the trade deadline, and outside of a stellar 2016 rookie season (which did include 6 scoreless appearances in the playoffs for Toronto), he holds just a 5.17 ERA/4.70 FIP. The 35-year-old Smith might be the closest to a playoff lock after a strong season in which he’s posted a 1.65 ERA/3.59 FIP with 6.5 K/BB across 19 appearances.