Houston Astros reportedly could take aggressive trade approach with SP, 4 potential targets

Houston Astros
Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros rotation used to be a strength of the team, helping carry the club in October and playing a pivotal role in World Series titles. Throughout the 2024 season, Houston has had a big problem with its starting pitching.

Entering MLB games today, the Astros rank 12th in quality starts (27) but some of the underlying numbers – 1.32 WHIP, 4.18 ERA and .239 batting average allowed – point towards bigger problems. What’s been especially problematic for Houston’s starting pitchers this season is their inconsistency with command.

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  • Houston Astros rotation stats (FanGraphs): 4.57 ERA (24th in MLB), 3,85 BB/9 (30th), 11.7% K-BB rate (25th), 1.36 WHIP (27th) and 10% walk rate (30th)

Pitching is the biggest reason why Houston is much further down in the MLB standings than anyone expected coming into the year. While there have been slight improvements with the Astros rotation compiling a 4.23 ERA since May 1 (17th in MLB), it still has the second-highest walk rate (9.1 percent) over that span. It evidently could lead to an aggressive approach at the MLB trade deadline based on recent Astros rumors.

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Jon Heyman of the New York Post recently reported on Houston’s approach to the MLB trade deadline, suggesting the Astros are interested in adding multiple starting pitchers.

Importantly, context plays an important part in which starting pitchers could be among the Astros trade targets. Houston ranked 27th in MLB.com farm system rankings entering the season and with ownership wanting to be tighter with payroll, adding a high-end starter is unlikely.

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Identifying potential Houston Astros pitching targets

With teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs still in the MLB postseason picture there’s a smaller pool of trade candidates to work with. However, there are still a few potential options Houston can pursue.

  • Tyler Anderson, Los Angeles Angels – Not only would Tyler Anderson help the Astros rotation in 2024, but he is also under contract next season ($13 million salary) as well. In 82 innings pitched this year, Anderson is responsible for a 2.63 ERA with a .205 batting average allowed and a 1.15 WHIP. While he struggled in 2023 (5.43 ERA), he sports a 3.59 ERA across 401.2 innings since the 2022 season.
  • Jake Irvin, Washington Nationals – If Houston wants to prioritize cost-controlled starting pitchers with command, 27-year-old Jake Irvin could be a potential option. This season, he has surrendered just a 4.6 percent walk rate with a 3.03 ERA and a .225 batting average allowed. There isn’t a ton of upside, but Irvin would add more stability for the Astros rotation.
  • Yusei Kikuchi, Toronto Blue Jays – The Toronto Blue Jays could still compete for a playoff spot, but it does make sense for the organization to explore its trade options with Yusei Kikuchi. On an expiring contract, Kikuchi holds a crisp 3.67 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and 6.6 percent walk rate across 46 starts in the last two seasons.
  • Erick Fedde, Chicago White Sox – Once again, our Astros trade targets are focused on affordable starters who can stabilize this pitching staff and won’t cost top prospects. Erick Fedde, age 31, is under contract through 2025 at a $7.5 million salary. The veteran righty owns a 3.10 ERA with a 3.58 expected ERA in his first 81.1 innings pitched this year, holding opponents to a .228 batting average with just a 6.8 percent walk rate. Fedde could function as a quality No. 4 starter in Houston next season, too.
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