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.