This spring 26-year-old, right-hander, Dan Straily who was beginning his first season with the Houston Astros organization after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs as part of a three-player deal that sent outfielder Dexter Fowler to the Cubs, was among the candidates for the Astros fifth starter job.
Straily was beginning his seventh profession season after being drafted by the Oakland A’s organization in the 24th round of the 2009 Draft. He has played part of three seasons at the Major League level with Oakland (2012-2014) and Chicago (2014), posting a Major League career record of 13-12 with a 4.54 ERA (123 ER/243.2 IP) with 203 strikeouts in 48 games (42 starts).
His best Major League season came in 2013. Straily started 27 games for the Oakland A’s that season, finishing the season with a 10-8, win-loss record and a very respectable 3.96 ERA. He led American League rookies in games started (27), innings pitched (152.1) and strikeouts (124) and tied for wins with 10. I remember watching him pitch, thinking this kid is going to be a mainstay in the Major Leagues if not a star and then he just sort of disappeared.
The Astros traded Dexter Fowler to Chicago for Straily and Luis Valbuena, a 29-year-old infielder that primarily played third base with an occasional start at second who had hit a solid .249/.341/.435 and it was Valbuena’s acquisition that seem to garner the most attention, he was going to be the Astros everyday third baseman and Straily was going to add some pitching depth, with an opportunity to win a spot in Houston’s rotation.
Straily, who is on the Astros 40-man roster, didn’t fare well in spring training, he allowed seven runs on 12 hits over 10.2 innings in Grapefruit League action, giving him a 5.91 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and 6/5 K/BB ratio. Although 10.2 innings is a very small sample size, Straily failed to win a spot in the Astros rotation.
As fast as he came on the scene in 2013, he disappeared again, getting sent to Triple-A Fresno to start the 2015 campaign, his role, an insurance arm, in the event an Astros starter is injured and misses playing time. At least that is how it looked.
Straily has been passed over twice now, make it three times, if you count Asher Wojciechowski getting the call twice and then Lance McCullers who has been called up and inserted into the Astros starting rotation. Then there is the Astros #5 rank pitching prospect Michael Feliz that has been called up to work out of the bullpen, so make it four times, Straily, the invisible man, has been passed over as he continues to pitch in Fresno.
Last night I saw Straily (4-3, 3.91 ERA) pitched and have since reviewed the game tape of his entire performance. He looked like the Straily from 2013, who made 27 starts for the Oakland A’s. He pitched his third straight quality start, giving up just one run, on only three hits in six innings while striking out a season, team-high ten batters.
As reported by the Grizzlies media staff, “Straily’s only blemish came in the first when Darnell Sweeney led off the inning with a triple and scored on a single through the hole at second from Andy Wilkins. Straily quickly rebounded, retiring the side in order four times over the course of his start and strung together two separate streaks where he put away eight straight batters. The right-hander is now 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA (4 ER/19.0 IP) and 23 strikeouts over his last three starts.”
The June draft is less than two weeks away after which trade talks usually heat up. In Houston everyone is talking about getting that fifth starter in a trade. My take is, if you are out looking for a fifth starter and that’s it, well you are in a pretty good position and trading prospects for a fifth starter doesn’t make a lot of sense, a fifth starter is usually just a couple of outings from losing their spot in the rotation.
The Astros have not totally discounted making a deal to bring a pitcher to Houston, but they have tried to fill the role with arms from within the organization; and to date, have passed Dan Straily at least three times.
I saw this kid pitch last night and wonder how many times can the Astros bypass him.