Last offseason, the Astros lost Gerrit Cole, who finished 2nd in Cy Young voting, to the New York Yankees in free agency. A lot of other things happened that offseason to the Astros as well, but that’s besides the point.
That left a very good 1-2 at the top of the ‘Stros rotation of Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. However, Verlander had to undergo Tommy John surgery after just one start. Greinke had a solid season, but not to Greinke expectations.
Verlander should return sometime in 2021, leaving Greinke to take the role of ace. Behind him, Framber Valdez had a very strong 2020 season where he pitched 70.2 innings and put up a 3.57 ERA and 2.85 FIP. Lance McCullers, who came back from Tommy John surgery himself, had a solid return campaign with a 3.93 ERA and 3.70 FIP. The last two spots could really be anyone’s game.
Cristian Javier, who finished third in American League Rookie of the Year voting, seems to have been penciled into one of the two spots, but his 4.94 FIP and other ERA estimators leave much to be desired.
Jose Uquidy had a solid ERA as well, but like with Valdez, struggled in terms of his ERA estimators. Brandon Bielak and Josh James struggled entirely throughout 2020. Young arms like Luis Garcia and Forrest Whitley could use a little more seasoning in the minors. Plus, with a handful of their key players reaching free agency, they might want to keep some payroll space open. Brault would give the Astros a solid backend option while keeping their payroll to a reasonable level. It would not be a surprise to see them give the Pittsburgh Pirates a call about Brault.