Five free agent relievers Red Sox could pursue from World Series teams
By Sean Penney
Collin McHugh was once a trusted member of the Astros rotation until they shifted him to the bullpen in the playoffs for their World Series run in 2017. He’s primarily remained a reliever since then but has the ability to start.
McHugh thrived in his new role last season, posting a 1.99 ERA and 11.7 K/9 over 72 1/3 innings. His emergence as a lights-out reliever didn’t carry over to 2019 though as he regressed to a 4.70 ERA.
His ERA was heavily inflated by two horrific outings early in the season when he was still in the rotation. McHugh was shelled for nine earned runs by the Texas Rangers and eight earned runs by the Kansas City Royals. Despite solid results in his other starts, Houston pulled him from the rotation following the latter meltdown.
Once he was back in the bullpen, McHugh began to resemble his 2018 form. He posted a 2.67 ERA and 10.7 K/9 in 33 2/3 innings as a reliever this year.
McHugh can be utilized as a multi-inning reliever, logging more than one inning eight times following his transition to the bullpen in May. This would be appealing for the Red Sox since their rotation ranked 22nd in the majors with only 806 innings pitched. He would also provide a capable spot starter – another bonus for a Red Sox rotation with uncertainty surrounding the health of their top starters.
Unfortunately, McHugh is dealing with his own health concerns. He was shut down due to back pain last month, hasn’t pitched in the postseason and isn’t Houston’s World Series roster.
It doesn’t appear that the Red Sox will get the chance to scout McHugh during the World Series but they shouldn’t forget about him. The 32-year old has proven himself as a high-leverage reliever and has shown solid upside as a starter. McHugh won 19 games and finished eighth in Cy Young voting in 2015.
Boston could target McHugh as a bullpen piece with the ability to spot start or as a fifth starter who could be available for the cost of a middle reliever.