FH Freeway is getting you ready for fantasy baseball season, and today we are going to go over one name that has to be on your sleeper list. Today we take a look at Astros pitcher Jose Urquidy.
Fantasy Sleepers: Jose Urquidy
Jose Urquidy made his first start in the Majors back in July of this past season, a little more than four years after he signed with the Astros in 2015. After spending time at two levels in 2015, Urquidy (who went by the name of Jose Hernandez until 2019) got the attention of scouts and evaluators after an impressive showing with Quad Cities (A) in 2016. Urquidy had a 2.66 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and a 9.32 SO/9 across 17 appearances (14 starts) in 2016 in the Midwest League, and put up respectable numbers (3.48 ERA and 1.27 WHIP) in Lancaster after he was promoted in July of that season.
Urquidy then missed all of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and came back in 2018 and logged 57.1 innings between Tri-City (SS-A) and Buies Creek (A+). In 2019, Urquidy was back at full strength, and not only was he fully healthy, he also saw his fastball velocity rise. Prior to 2019, Urquidy was more of a pitchability-type righty who was sitting in the low 90’s and peaked at about 92-93 MPH. This past season, Urquidy was touching 97 MPH with his fastball, and was sitting comfortably in the mid-90’s with his four-seamer.
Now healthy and armed with a harder fastball, Urquidy’s strikeout numbers went up. He struck out 134 batters in 103 innings (11.71 SO/9) across two levels (AA and AAA), and held batters he faced in the Minors to a .238 batting average. He received his first promotion to the Majors in July, and was actually quite solid during his time with the Astros in 2019.
The right-handed pitcher from Mexico had a 3.95 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in nine appearances (seven starts) with the big club in 2019. Urquidy was also a factor for the Astros during their playoff run in 2019, especially in Game 4 of the World Series. The 24-year old righty shut down the Nationals, as he allowed just two hits and no walks across five shutout innings, and picked up the victory in Game 4.
While much was made of the increase in velocity Urquidy had in his fastball last season, Urquidy is a four-pitch righty who’s best pitch isn’t even his four-seamer. Urquidy’s best pitch is his changeup, which generally sits about 8-10 MPH slower than his fastball and was almost unhittable last season. In his brief stay in the Majors, batters only hit .160 of his change, and he does a strong job of effectively commanding it and throwing hitters off.
Urquidy also utilizes two breaking balls, a slider and a curveball. Urquidy’s slider was pretty good in 2019, as hitters only hit .200 off of it. And it was even more effective against right-handed hitters, as they only .182 off of the breaking pitch.
Urquidy displayed pretty consistent command of the pitch, but the opposite could be said of his curveball. Urquidy’s curve was pretty erratic, and it showed in the numbers. Batters hit .438 off the curve, with right-handed hitters hitting .600 off the pitch. If he’s going to continue using the pitch, he’ll need to refine it quite a bit.
What to Make of Urquidy in 2020
Heading into 2020, Urquidy has to be one of the favorites to be in the Astros rotation. With the defending AL Champions losing Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley, as well as non-tendering Aaron Sanchez, there will be some new faces in their rotation. Urquidy should be one of the favorites to slot in next season, thanks to his previous MLB experience, as well as the fact that he showed he can be an effective starter.
Because of that, he’s certainly worth a look heading into 2020. The Astros will still have a strong team entering next season, meaning Urquidy could pick up at least 10 wins, as well as put up decent strikeout and ERA numbers, if he’s given the chance to start with the team next season.