The Astros are expected to promote top pitching prospect Corbin Martin ahead of Sunday’s game against the Rangers, manager A.J. Hinch told reporters Saturday. Martin will slot into the rotation spot usually held by right-hander Collin McHugh, who will be temporarily reassigned to the bullpen as he works out some mechanical issues.
Martin, 23, is currently tabbed as the Astros’ sixth-best prospect, per MLB.com. The righty made the jump to Triple-A Round Rock at the start of the 2019 season and has issued four runs, 11 walks, and 28 strikeouts through his first 24 1/3 innings. He’s shown a remarkable ability to control the ball in each of his outings so far, a trend the Astros will hope he continues as he sees longer starts and more regular pitching opportunities on a major-league level.
McHugh, meanwhile, has hardly looked like the 1.99-ERA, 1.4-fWAR pitcher the Astros relied on in 2018. In a brutal 12-2 loss to the Royals on Tuesday, the 31-year-old hurler permitted eight runs on seven hits and three walks and struck out just three of 19 batters faced. He’s 3-4 in eight starts this spring, with a 6.37 ERA, 3.1 BB/9, and 9.2 SO/9 through 41 innings. No timetable has been placed on his bullpen stint, though it’s likely the Astros will wait to see him return to some of his early-season totals before shifting him back to the rotation — especially if Martin rises to the occasion in his absence.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.