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Houston Astros Add Veteran Starter To Pitching Depth

The Houston Astros had a rough start to the season thanks to awful pitching production and a lack of health. Even with most of its starters back healthy, Houston clearly learned the importance of maintaining solid pitching depth. On Monday, Chandler Rome of The Athletic reported that the Astros’ latest move was to sign veteran starter Eric Lauer to a minor league deal.

Houston will pay Lauer a prorated base salary of $1.5 million for any time he spends on the active major league roster. While he will immediately report to Triple-A, Lauer should receive an opportunity with the Astros considering the shaky performance of the back of the rotation.

The Astros likely signed Lauer with the idea of calling him up after working with him in the minors for a couple of weeks. If not, Lauer’s deal includes opt-out dates on July 1 and August 1 that he would likely exercise.

Houston Astros Sign Eric Lauer

Lauer struggled mightily last season with injuries and underperformance with the Milwaukee Brewers. In 46 2/3 innings, Lauer produced a 6.56 ERA while struggling to limit walks, generate strikeouts, and suppress home runs.

Although 2023 was bleak for Lauer, better health may produce better results. The lefty revealed that he dealt with shoulder and elbow issues for the entire year. It’s likely that these issues contributed to his struggles, specifically with his velocity decline and lack of command.

He seemingly returned to health during the offseason and latched on with the Pittsburgh Pirates in early March. Lauer failed to win a rotation spot in spring training and began the season in Triple-A. In 29 1/3 innings, he produced a 5.52 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 11 walks. His ERA looked even better before one awful outing in his final start.

Lauer opted out of his contract last week after failing to receive a promotion. However, perhaps the Pirates’ loss becomes Houston’s gain. Lauer’s strikeout (29.1 percent) and walk rates (8.7 percent) are on par with his peak production. It’s possible the Astros signed Lauer believing he could return to normal and boost their pitching staff.


Photo Credit: © Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports


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