11:07PM: Urquidy’s MRI revealed “the same results from the last time…some tightness with some inflammation,” the hurler told The Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome and other reporters. This left Urquidy hopeful of another relatively short IL visit: “I think I’m going to be ready in not a long time.”
5:52PM: The Astros announced a set of roster moves today, including the placement of right-hander Jose Urquidy on the 10-day injured list due to right shoulder discomfort. Left-hander Ryan Hartman’s contract was selected from Triple-A, with 40-man roster space cleared by a corresponding move of right-hander Francis Martes being designated for assignment. In addition, Garrett Stubbs has been called up from Triple-A while catcher Martin Maldonado is going to the bereavement list.
The shoulder issue caused Urquidy to leave last night’s start after just 1 1/3 innings, leaving the Astros ill-prepared for an impromptu bullpen game, and the result was a 13-3 loss to the Orioles. It was an unfortunate turn of events for Urquidy, who has quietly been one of baseball’s better pitchers over the last two months, with a 2.62 ERA over his nine starts and 55 innings prior to last night’s brief outing.
Urquidy missed two weeks in May due to a similar shoulder injury, though Astros manager Dusty Baker told reporters (including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart) that this new bout of soreness was in a different area of Urquidy’s throwing shoulder. Urquidy was scheduled to undergo an MRI today.
The Astros had been using a six-man rotation, so they might not need a replacement at all if they’re comfortable working their starters on regular rest. If not, Cristian Javier was used as a starter earlier this season and could be stretched out again or perhaps used in a piggyback capacity with another pitcher.
Perhaps another alternative is Hartman, who has a 3.98 ERA, 28.8% strikeout rate, and 7.6% walk rate over nine starts and 40 2/3 innings at Triple-A Sugar Land this season. A ninth-round pick for the Astros in the 2016 draft, Hartman posted some good numbers in his rise up Houston’s minor league ladder before struggling in his first exposure to Triple-A hitters in 2019. The lefty has performed better this year at Triple-A, though his issues with the home run ball have persisted, as Hartman has allowed 35 homers in 156 1/3 total frames at Triple-A.
Martes had a 10.80 ERA over 8 1/3 innings at Sugar Land this season. Martes was recently activated from the restricted list in the wake of his 162-game suspension for PED usage, issued in February 2020. This was Martes’ second PED suspension, and he also underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2018. Between the Astros’ minor league system and the Dominican Winter League, Martes has pitched only 21 2/3 innings since the start of the 2019 season. Martes was a highly-regarded prospect before his injury and suspension issues, but it seems as if Houston is ready to move on from the 25-year-old.