Don’t Kick Chris Devenski Out Of The Rotation

Apr 24, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Chris Devenski (47) pitches during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Chris Devenski (47) pitches during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

This world works in mysterious ways. I’m sure Chris Devenski will tell you that.

Starting off the season in Triple-A, Devenski was called up within the first few days of the season after Michael Feliz struggled in an innings-eating relief appearance against the New York Yankees.

Devenski was there as an emergency option for the next few days. A.J. Hinch didn’t want to burden the bullpen if another starter struggled, so Devenski was called up just in case they needed a few innings.

Many thought “Devo” (as he’s called by some) would potentially pitch in a game or two as a long reliever and then head back down to continue starting at the AAA level. However, Devenski did the most with his first opportunity against the Milwaukee Brewers, throwing three innings of one-hit ball in his Major League debut, while striking out four. That was enough for the Astros to keep the rookie around a bit longer.

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After 13.2 innings of one-run ball from the bullpen, the Astros summoned Devenski to the rotation, replacing the veteran Scott Feldman. And since joining the rotation, Devenksi has proven he belongs to stay.

In three starts the rookie has thrown 17.2 innings, allowing 16 hits, 5 runs and 6 walks, while striking out 15 batters. His 0-2 record has more to do with the lack of run support than his pitching.

Through the first month and change of the season, Devenski has been the team’s best starting pitcher and most dependable up to this point. Dallas Keuchel has struggled early, as have Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers and Doug Fister, though the last three have pitched much better as of late (each have allowed 7 ER in their last 3 starts respectively).

Why would the Astros even contemplate sending Devenski back to the bullpen? Well, last year’s rookie phenom, Lance McCullers Jr., is set to return sometime this weekend, and while it’s possible the Astros turn to a six-man rotation, they may decide to stick to the traditional five-man rotation and take this year’s rookie out of the rotation.

Sending Devenski to the pen does have its advantages. It would help keep his innings down in the meantime until they need another starter later in the season (at some point a pitcher is likely to get injured and miss a few starts). Another advantage with Devenski in the pen is having a guy with his stuff available in late-game situations.

Ken Giles hasn’t figured out his issues yet and Josh Fields has struggled. Having Devenski available late in the game for some key outs could give the Astros an extra few wins over the course of a season.

Even with those advantages noted, I believe keeping Devenski in the rotation makes the Astros a better team.

The 25-year old, as previously mentioned, has been the team’s best starter year-to-date. Throwing him out there every five starts gives the Astros the best chance of winning. He has some great stuff and is likely to refine it with pitching coach Brent Strom as the season goes along.

If you’re the Astros, how do you kick a guy like Devenski out of the rotation? It’s hard to justify. If you’re worried about innings, you can always switch up the rotation with off days to skip him a few times throughout the season. You also have starters in the bullpen you can give a spot-start to to give Devenski an extra few days off if need be.

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Devenski has currently thrown 31.1 innings this season. The former 25th round pick has never thrown more than 120 innings in a season and is likely to cap out at around 150 this year. A starter usually throws around 30 innings a month, meaning Devenski could go well into mid-August before hitting the 120-mark. At that point, the Astros could send Devenski to the pen for the remainder of the season and playoffs, while sending Feldman to the rotation.

The good news is the Astros may have accidentally found themselves a gem in Devenski. The good problem is that they have six (even seven) playable starters they can put in their rotation.

How they handle it, only A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow know.

Click here for all the latest on the Astros season.

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