Depending on how you measure it, the Houston Astros have the top pitching staff in Major League Baseball and Hunter Brown is the latest Astros hurler to make his mark.
The team’s brain trust has spent the majority of the 2022 season figuring out how to get all of the starting pitchers into a rotation that at times has ballooned to six, with jokes about moving to a seven man rotation.
Astros top prospect Hunter Brown is making a push to be considered for the postseason roster
In a day and age of a dearth of starting pitchers, this is a team that traded away starting pitching at the deadline and when another arm is needed simply looks to their AAA affiliate and call up a prospect who immediately throws 6 shutout innings in his debut, then fires another quality start in start number two.
The Astros starters are second in the big leagues with a 3.04 ERA and they lead the league in the number of innings pitched by starters and WAR.
Simply put they’ve been so good one has to ponder exactly who gets sent to the bullpen, which by the way, has the lowest ERA in the majors, when the postseason rotations tighten.
There would seemingly be nowhere for an untested rookie to fit on a staff this good.
But the rookie mentioned above is Hunter Brown, the Astros top prospect, and while you don’t want to take away too much from wins over the Rangers and Tigers, last night Brown proved the moment wasn’t too big for him when he fired three shutout innings in relief against a Rays team in the midst of a pennant race in Tampa, giving up 2 hits and a walk.
Brown has now 15 Major League innings under his belt and owns a 1.20 ERA and 0.93 WHIP, along with 14 strikeouts.
Brown could be an intriguing option for the Astros as he provides an option for length out of the bullpen should the Astros find themselves in a spot where an extra day of rest is needed for one of the core bullpen pieces.
Of course, in true Astros fashion, they have options here, too as another rookie, Seth Martinez, has filled this role admirably for a good chunk of the season with a 2.09 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over 38.2 innings.
Unfortunately for Martinez, when space was needed for Justin Verlander to be activated, he was the odd man out, despite a stellar performance the previous night and he was optioned to Sugar Land.
Still, it’s Brown’s four seamer that has hit 98 MPH, while averaging 96.5, that dazzles to the tune of a .136 batting average against, followed by an 83 MPH curve ball that batters average .158 on.
The Astros clinched the American League West last night and now work to secure the best overall record in the American League while balancing rest for the rest of the regular season.
There are still decisions to be made and postseason roster spots to be earned over the next two weeks and I wouldn’t be surprised if Hunter Brown earned one of those spots on one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.