Astros To Promote Jake Bloss

Astros To Promote Jake Bloss

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11:23am: Manager Joe Espada confirmed that Bloss will be called up to start Friday’s game, per Matt Kawahara of the Houston Chronicle on X.

11:05am: The Astros are expected to promote pitching prospect Jake Bloss from Double-A to the majors, per a report from Chandler Rome and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The young righty will be making his major league debut by starting Friday’s game. He is not yet on the club’s 40-man roster, so a corresponding move or moves will be required.

It’s an incredibly quick rise to the majors for Bloss, who was just drafted last summer. He will be celebrating his 23rd birthday on Sunday, two days after his planned major league debut. The Astros selected him in the third round out of Georgetown University and he was able to make his professional debut shortly thereafter. He made seven appearances last year between the Complex League and Single-A, tossing 18 2/3 innings with a 2.89 earned run average.

Coming into this year, Baseball America ranked him the #8 prospect in the club’s system, noting that he mixes a fastball with a curveball, a slider and a changeup, with the curve being the standout secondary offering. Keith Law of The Athletic put him in the #12 slot.

Here in 2024, Bloss has seemingly raised his stock with some good results. The Astros initially sent him to High-A but his four good starts there prompted a quick promotion to Double-A. He’s made 12 starts combined between those two levels with a 1.74 ERA in 62 innings. He has benefited from .181 batting average on balls in play that he won’t be able to maintain, but his 25.8% strikeout rate is strong and his 9% walk rate around par.

FanGraphs didn’t release their list of top Astros prospect for 2024 until June 11, so they were able to give more weight to this season’s performance. They moved Bloss up to the #2 slot in the organization and said he is “trending up and tracking like a mid-rotation starter.” He has also snuck onto their top 100 list, currently listed in the #99 spot. As noted in the report from Rome and Rosenthal, general manager Dana Brown has been singing the praises of Bloss recently.

While there’s plenty to like about Bloss, the aggressive move to skip him over Triple-A and to the majors after so little professional experience is a reflection of the significant rotation struggles that the Astros have been dealing with this year.

Each of Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. underwent elbow surgery last year, so the club knew they couldn’t expect anything from those two in the first half of 2024. But since the season has started, the injury situation has gotten worse. Both José Urquidy and Cristian Javier required Tommy John surgery, knocking both of them out of action for the rest of the year. Justin Verlander started the season on the injured list due to right shoulder inflammation and is now back on the shelf due to neck discomfort. J.P. France has been battling shoulder problems all year and is on the minor league injured list.

Framber Valdez had a brief stint on the IL as well but has been pretty close to his usual self. Ronel Blanco has stepped up and been a huge help but the group has been flimsy apart from that. Hunter Brown had a 9.78 ERA through the end of April, though he has been much better lately and has brought that number down to 4.72. Spencer Arrighetti was pushed into action but has an ERA of 6.37 through his first 12 major league starts. Blair Henley was called up for a spot start earlier in the year but it went about as poorly as possible, as he recorded just one out and allowed five earned runs.

Bloss will now be thrown into that mix to see if he can get major league hitters out, in spite of his youth and limited track record. Whether it’s just a spot start or if he is sticking around will likely depend on various factors. The Astros have two off-days next week and could perhaps survive with a four-man rotation for a while once they make it through this weekend. If Verlander can be back after a brief IL stint as hoped, he could be back by the time they next need a full five-man set.

Perhaps that points to this just being a one-off outing for Bloss, though Arrighetti may not be guaranteed to stick around based on his results. However it plays out, it’s an exciting week for Bloss but also highlights what a rough season it has been for the Astros so far. Thanks in part to their rotation struggles, they are 34-40 and 6.5 games out of a playoff spot.

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