Sean Pendergast

The Risk Factor for Each Houston Astros Starting Pitcher

Lance McCullers will need to regan his All Star form for the Astros in 2021.
Lance McCullers will need to regan his All Star form for the Astros in 2021. Photo by Jack Gorman
"Hey, it COULD work!"

While those four words signify hope, and as Andy Dufresne once told us in The Shawshank Redemption that "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies," those can also be four very dangerous words when it comes to the risk-laden endeavor of constructing a roster for a sports team.

You could argue that those four words are what got us into the pickle that we are in right now with the Houston Texans, right? Bill O'Brien as general manager? IT COULD WORK. Trade DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson, and hope David Johnson regains his form from FOUR years ago? IT COULD WORK. Make a former team chaplain into an actual God-figure inside the building, putting him in charge of seemingly EVERYTHING... IT COULD WORK!

News flash, NONE of it worked. So perhaps Andy's friend Red was onto something when he countered with "Hope can be a dangerous thing. Hope can make a man go crazy." That brings us to the Houston Astros, who have for some time now been a team that properly deployed hope. Their "hope" has been slathered in measured risk management, as opposed to the Texans, whose "hope" seems to be the equivalent of blind dart throwing.

That said, the Astros are going to need several calculated risks to pay off this season in the starting rotation if they are going to keep their contention window open, especially after losing Framber Valdez, possibly for the season, with a broken finger. So let's examine, and see what the "GLASS HALF FULL" and "GLASS HALF EMPTY" scenarios are for each Astros starting pitcher.

ZACK GREINKE

GLASS HALF FULL — Greinke dials up a handful of those Hall of Fame starts and looks like the upper tier starter who went 8-1 as an Astro in 2019
GLASS HALF EMPTY — Greinke isn't an ace anymore, just a solid starter who looks like the 4.03 ERA in the shortened 2020 season
MORE LIKELY OUTCOME: GLASS HALF EMPTY, but not super worried

LANCE McCULLERS

GLASS HALF FULL — McCullers flashes his All Star level stuff for 30 starts, and gets a long term deal to remain with the Astros as their ace going forward
GLASS HALF EMPTY — McCullers gets hit with injuries again, and doesn't exceed his career high of 22 starts
MORE LIKELY OUTCOME: CAUTIOUS GLASS HALF FULL

JAKE ODORIZZI

GLASS HALF FULL — Hey, he was an All Star just two years ago, won 15 games, and his injuries in 2020 were super fluky
GLASS HALF EMPTY — Odorizzi is getting paid to get about 15 wins, but he looks more like the 3.92 career ERA he carries
MORE LIKELY OUTCOME: STRONG GLASS HALF FULL

CRISTIAN JAVIER

GLASS HALF FULL
— Javier carries the electric stuff he flashed in the shortened season, stuff that got him Rookie of the Year votes, and he becomes a double digit winner
GLASS HALF EMPTY —54.1 career IP is not a big sample size, YIKES
MORE LIKELY OUTCOME: GLASS HALF EMPTY, but hopeful

JOSE URQUIDY

GLASS HALF FULL
— Urquidy has come up big in big spots for the Astros, and clearly is up for the moment
GLASS HALF EMPTY — like Javier, 70.2 career IP is not a big sample size
MORE LIKELY OUTCOME: SOLID GLASS HALF FULL

Three weeks to Opening Day!

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast