Houston Astros Forrest Whitley May Undergo Tommy John

It has been recommended that Houston Astros pitcher Forrest Whitley should undergo Tommy John surgery. The player will seek a second opinion at this time. This news comes on the heels of the team signing Jake Odorizzi to a contract as additional rotation depth. Mark Berman of KRIV Fox 26 reported the news early Sunday morning.

A weak rotation would become weaker if Whitley does indeed need the dreaded surgery. The 23-year-old has a chance to complete for a starting rotation spot if healthy, but this would put him out of action until the 2022 season at the earliest. The 6’7″, right-handed pitcher has not appeared in the majors yet, but he has an intriguing profile. He has had an uneven minor league career with a 4.89 ERA and 289 strikeouts in 197 innings. However, the earned runs have fluctuated between 1.84 in AA-Corpus Christi in 2017 and 12.21 at AAA-Round Rock in 2019. It certainly hasn’t been a linear path to the majors for the San Antonio native.

The Astros originally selected Whitley in the first round of the 2016 Amateur Draft out of high school. He has battled his way up the organization’s ladder and is now the top-rated prospect in their pool per MLB.com. Scouts rave about his five-pitch arsenal that includes fastball and curve that both rate as 60s on the 20-80 scale. His career walk rate of 4.3 per nine innings in the minors indicates some wildness. Although, it’s hard to ignore 13.2 strikeouts per nine over that same span of time. Ironing out the mechanics of such a tall frame has been the big key in making Whitley a more consistent and effective pitcher.

How Houston Replaces Whitley

Losing Whitley to surgery certainly impacts the team’s starting rotation depth. Yes, they have Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. at the top of the rotation, but many of their other options are coming off tough seasons or don’t have long track records. There also aren’t many quality starting options on the open market unless Houston feels like adding someone like Homer Bailey. This might push prospects like Tyler Ivey or Peter Solomon into action sooner than intended.

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Players Mentioned: Forrest Whitley, Jake Odorizzi, Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., Homer Bailey, Tyler Ivey, Peter Solomon