Through 12 starts this year, Collin McHugh has been very impressive for the Houston Astros. He struggled a bit tonight with his location in a loss against the Seattle Mariners, but he has been a breath of fresh air for a rotation that had a lot of question marks coming into the season. McHugh was called up early in the year for a spot-start after Scott Feldman was scratched. McHugh pitched so well that he earned himself a spot in the rotation.
McHugh was drafted by the New York Mets in 2008 and spent a long time bouncing around in their minor league system. He was in single-a ball until 2011 when he earned his promotion to the double-a club in the Mets’ farm system. A year later, he was on the fast track to the majors and ended up starting eight games for the Mets. He struggled mightily to the tune of a 7.59 ERA. The Mets then traded him to the Colorado Rockies in 2013.
In Colorado, McHugh spent the season between their double-a and triple-a clubs. After the season, the Rockies cut him in December of 2013. Two days later, Astros’ general manager Jeff Luhnow claimed McHugh off waivers and found a diamond in the rough.
Since being called up, McHugh has put it together for the Astros. He made 12 starts before Monday night’s games against the Seattle Mariners. In those 12 starts, McHugh has an ERA of 2.86 in 72 innings pitched. He is averaging more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings. Batters are only hitting minuscule .186 against him. McHugh’s success has come largely from keeping the walks down. His location has been very good this season for the Astros.
McHugh has a good fastball that he throws for strikes which sets up his hammer, the 12-6 curveball. Hitters know that McHugh is going to be around the plate, so they are forced to swing at anything close. This makes his curveball that much more devastating to lay off of for opposing hitters. McHugh may turn out to be a very valuable commodity for the Astros over the next few seasons as they transition their team into a winning ball club.