Luhnow: Astros keeping close eye on workload of young pitchers

Lance McCullers has helped the Astros' rotation so far in 2015, but the rookie is also nearing uncharted territory for himself. 

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

The Houston Astros are still leading the AL West thanks in part to the efforts of young hurlers Lance McCullers Jr. and Vincent Velasquez, who were called upon earlier this season to help the starting rotation.

The pair of rookies have been more than serviceable as complements to the staff’s top two pitchers, Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh.

Because of their heightened roles on the staff, general manager Jeff Luhnow told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart that he and the coaching staff are fully aware of the increase in workload that both young pitchers have had so far in 2015. 

As a result, Luhnow says, the Astros could adopt a six-man rotation in September in order to keep everyone ‘fresh’ and prevent anyone from being overworked.

As Luhnow told McTaggart: "It allows the guys to get a little extra rest. We need to think about what the impact is. There might be some guys who don’t want to do it, and we’ll figure that out. We’ve got to be creative in giving our young players rest because if we go to the playoffs, they’ll all reach their career highs and go well beyond them. We want to win this year, but we also want to be cognizant of not doing anything to injure those guys."

McTaggart broke down the numbers: McCullers’ career-high in innings pitched at the minor league level is 104 2/3, and he entered play Sunday with 82 1/3 so far in 2015. As for Velasquez, his career high is 124 innings and he’s tallied 52 total innings split among the minor leagues and the Astros.

Of course, if Houston goes out and acquires a top-tier pitcher by the July 31 trading deadline it could alter the roles of McCullers and/or Velasquez, but that’s something the Astros would have to deal with should a trade materialize in the next few weeks.

(h/t MLB.com)