All-Star Worthy

Why is no one talking about Collin McHugh?

McHugh is on roll right now. Collin McHugh/Facebook

The big conversation regarding the Astros’ bullpen has been circled around Ken Giles. Let’s put the Giles conversation aside and talk about another member of the Astros’ bullpen. Collin McHugh’s numbers alone can vouch for a spot in the All-Star game. 

His notable pitching isn’t a new thing; McHugh led the team in ERA after his first season with the Astros in 2014. Fast forward to the 2017 postseason, McHugh is on a World Series champions’ roster. McHugh was left off of the roster for the ALDS, but made appearances against the Yankees and in the memorable Game 5 of the World Series. Despite an underwhelming performance, McHugh is proving to be an impressive and reliable part of the bullpen for the 2018 Astros.

McHugh has appeared in 27 games and pitched 40 innings in 2018. AJ Hinch has an obvious trust with the 31-year-old pitcher based on his stable position in the starting rotation last season. However, a relief spot is a different story. Hinch has seen his relief pitcher rack up 52 strikeouts with a 0.90 ERA. This ERA is good enough for second amongst all AL relief pitchers. In fact, the Astros have four of the top 20 AL relief ERAs with Héctor Rondón (1.44), Chris Devenski (1.57), and Brad Peacock (2.25).

McHugh is beginning to appear in more intense situations as he continues to prove himself through the season. He pitched three innings in a tie game against the Texas Rangers on July 4th, giving up one hit and struck out one. McHugh stayed on the mound through the ninth inning, earning the win with the help of Giles’ tenth-inning save. This road win is McHugh’s 15th road appearance in which he’s maintained a 0.71 and struck out 29 over 25.1 IP.

If the numbers aren’t enough to convince you that McHugh deserves an All-Star spot this season, ask Lance McCullers Jr., Joe Musgrove, and a lot of the Astros Twitter fanbase. McCullers Jr. tells his Twitter followers,

“I’M ONLY GOING TO SAY THIS ONCE…. SO LISTEN UP…. IF @Collin_McHugh ISN’T IN THE 2018 ALL-STAR GAME… THEN CANCEL THE GAME… IDC ABOUT ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE BEST PERFORMERS EARNING THEIR #ASG NOD AND HE DESERVES IT x1000 @MLB @astros #asgworthy.”

Collin McHugh has absolutely proved himself as an All-Star pitcher and is giving AJ Hinch some assurance from the bullpen that has been struggling throughout the season. As long as he can continue performing at this level, Hinch may see him as a trustworthy option in high-leverage situations come playoff time.

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Keep an eye on Kevin Harvick. Photo by Wiki Commons

It's been a season of surprises as the NASCAR Cup Series begins its West Coast swing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This is one of NASCAR's many mile and a half tracks, but this one is different as it is much more bumpy and when this track gets in the sun, it gets slippery as well. The track is a lot more narrow than the other mile and a half tracks as well, so there will be a lot more close quarter racing.

Last week at Homestead, William Byron pulled away from the field and went on to claim his second career victory. The Charlotte native battled back from early tire issues and ran as low as 31st until he was able to claw his way back to the front around stage 2 when he drove around the two JGR teammates of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin to take the stage victory. There has been a lot of expectations and hype around this young phenom but in his first three years, it took him a while to grow into a race winner. It wasn't until last year when Byron claimed his first win at the Daytona fall race. This year he was paired with crew-chief Rudy Fugle. This pair amassed tons of success when they worked together in the Truck Series back in 2016 when they won seven races. It seems now that the pair could be back to their winning ways. This looks like this could be a good pairing down the line.

As we all know, this has been the season of surprises and those surprises continued last week as Michael McDowell went on to his third consecutive top ten finish as he finished eighth. McDowell has been sort of a journeyman driver. He has raced for teams such as LeaVine Family Racing and the now defunct Michael Waltrip Racing where he got his start. While it has only been three races, he's in the midst of a career year beginning with a victory in this year's Daytona 500. Many thought that victory was a fluke and that he was "wasting a playoff spot," but since then he has proved his haters wrong as he currently sits fourth in the points. Will this streak continue? I think it can. His string of good runs puts him in an advantageous position as he gets to start up front each week and knowing how important qualifying was, he has really been able to take advantage of this. Look for the #34 Loves Ford Mustang to build on this.

The favorite for this week's race has to be Joey Logano. In the fifteen races Logano has started in here, he has ten top fives and two victories including last season's spring Vegas race in February. He hasn't got off to the best start as it's been three up and down races for him. From finishing second at the Daytona road course to following that up with a twenty-fifth last week at Homestead. This week though I believe he can get everything back on track with a good run or a victory.

The driver that I am picking to win this week is Kevin Harvick. The future Hall of Famer has been stout this season with a 6th and 5th place finish. The speed for Harvick and his team have been there, but they just haven't been able to get the win. But this week he's going to a track he has excelled at big time. He will start from the pole this Sunday and that should really scare the whole field. He has two victories here and twelve top tens since his beginning back in 2001. I look for him to get his third victory here and begin another run for his second championship.

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