Mighty Joe Musgrove has quietly been one of the best pitchers in the minor league system since being drafted by Toronto in 2011. He spent his first two years with the Jays then was traded to the Astros in 2013 as a 20-year-old. He was involved in the giant 10-player swap between the two organizations in 2012 that now has General Manager Jeff Lunhow smiling.
The 6’5”, 265 lb. flamethrower has accumulated some gaudy numbers that almost make you double-take. Through 296.1 IP, Joe has a 25-8 record that’s supported by these polished numbers: 2.50 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, and most impressive of all, a BB/9 of 1.0. His command has gotten him to where he is today, one step away from the show. So far in 2016, Musgrove sports a 1.02 ERA and has struck out 49 batters to only 5 walks between AA and AAA. When you boast a career 282K:36BB ratio, not only are you absolutely wearing away your opponents, you are also grabbing the attention of your organization’s front office.
What else does the former Grossmont Foothiller have to do to get his rear to the show? Nothing. I believe his debut is right around the corner (sometime in June if I were to guess, but maybe early July). Here’s why I think he’ll be there soon beyond strictly being a true top-of-the-rotation prospect:
Astros Starting Pitcher Ranks in 2016 through May 25, 2016:
Major Pitching Stats: MLB Rank
Fastball Velocity: 30th
The ranks above will tell you exactly why the Astros, who looked to be a top contender in the AL West coming into the season, are 9 GB of first place and currently own a 19-28 record. Now, if the Astros are contemplating whether this is still a season to be had (which they should be) or are pondering the idea of being sellers soon, I believe Joe Musgrove to the MLB soon is plausible for both paths.
In the case in which, for some reason, the Astros front office thinks they can’t compete in a tough division this year; bring up Joe Musgrove:
What do you have to lose? Nothing. You have everything to gain: MLB experience, that is. The righty has proven he can get batters out at every level of the minors. He pitched about 100 innings in 2015 and has tossed about 42 so far in 2016. That leaves at least 70-100 more innings to give the workhorse in attempts to season the young man up for a full year in the pros for 2017 (at this time you can argue that Carlos Correa and George Springer will be fully ready to join Jose Altuve in domination of the league). Those 70-100 innings should be used for the majors, now. Bring him up.
In the case for the ‘Stros pushing for a wildcard spot or believing they can usurp their division rivals; bring up Joe Musgrove:
We are almost a third of the way through the season. Down 9 games at this point in the season isn’t terrible. We’ve absolutely seen crazier things happen. If GM Lunhow and company want to win now they can’t for a moment think that their sky-is-the-limit-with-potential offense can outscore every team and lead them to the top. They have to figure out the pitching woes. As you saw in the table above: they are a horrendous pitching club. Bring up a guy that can actually light the radar gun up. Average FBv for Astros starters this year is dead last at 88.6 MPH, the next closest is 2 MPH faster at 90.6 MPH. Also, it wouldn't hurt to bring up a guy that can actually command the ball; the combination of their current staff has a 1.47 WHIP on the season.
Joe can bring that spark; that fire that the pitching staff is desperate for right now. McCullers might be helpful, but his walk rates have always been his Achilles heel throughout his career and his slow start this year isn’t a positive step forward. If I were in charge I’d have Musgrove debuting last week. I think he is that ready.
All-in-all I think the Astros will make the correct move and bring him up sometime in June or early July. They have nothing to lose. He’s a great dude with a high motor. I attended high school with Joe and one thing everyone talked about, as far as his success, was his strong demeanor and hard-work ethic. I haven’t spoken to him in years, but I guarantee you that he is even more of a leader and professional nowadays than he was back then. I believe he will be making a difference for Houston very soon. Stash him if you can. His debut will be lightly hyped but should be louder. He is a great talent; you'll be glad you grabbed him.
Since beginning of 2015: 15-2, 1.63 ERA, 138 IP, 115 H, 13 BB, 142 K, 10.8 K/BB