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,


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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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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