Astros spring training prospectus, the starting rotation, and bullpen concerns

Hunter joins Austin to breakdown the Astros through week one of spring training in Florida. What can the club expect from a full season of Justin Verlander at the top of the rotation, and how will he mentor the younger pitchers on the staff? Also, Hunter discusses Gerrit Cole’s debut in an Astros uniform and why his cerebral approach on the mound might pay dividends for the organization in 2018.

Editor’s Note: Read the latest Astros coverage from Hunter Atkins as he covers spring training in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Is Johnny Cueto Houston-bound ahead of the MLB trade deadline?

Is Johnny Cueto Houston-bound ahead of the MLB trade deadline?
by Austin Staton

San Fransisco RHP Johnny Cueto could be a midseason trade target for the Houston Astros, Michael Rathburn told The Weekly Brew podcast on Sunday.

Cueto, who is currently under contract with the Giants through 2022, has an opt-out option following the 2017 season. With the Giants currently sitting near the bottom of the NL West, and with Madison Bumgarner out indefinitely, Rathburn suggests that the Astros have the trade pieces to make a move for the veteran arm.

“If the Giants are completely out of [the playoff race], which it looks like they’re going to be — and Bumgarner is hurt, does a guy like Johnny Cueto get on the market? If so, I think Houston, without a doubt, is going to back up the truck and go get a guy like that who could win them a World Series.”

If a move is made, Cueto (4-2, 4.15 ERA) would immediately add depth to an Astros pitching staff that is anchored by Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers.

If Cueto is made available, should Jeff Luhnow consider a trade? Stay tuned.

Listen to Michael Rathburn’s full interview here.