Forrest Whitley debut: Astros promote former top prospect for first MLB appearance as pitching woes continue


The Houston Astros, off to a miserable 6-12 start fueled by pitching injuries and poor performance, are promoting former top prospect Forrest Whitley for his big-league debut, the team announced Tuesday. He’ll take the roster spot of RHP Spencer Arrighetti, who was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land after his start Monday.

Whitley, 26, was Houston’s top draft pick in 2016. He subsequently appeared to be en route to stardom. Alas, Whitley’s ascent was slowed by repeated injuries (including Tommy John surgery in spring 2021) and a 50-game suspension stemming from a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. 

“I made a mistake and take full responsibility for my actions,” Whitley said in a statement at the time. “I want to apologize to the Astros organization, my family and those closest to me. I will learn from this mistake and continue striving to be the best baseball player that I can be.”

Whitley was limited to just eight appearances last season. He’s already made three this year, compiling a 12.00 ERA and a 2.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio in three innings. The Astros are expected to continue using him in a relief role.

Whitley’s arsenal includes an upper-90s heater and a pair of breaking balls. His slider has been his most effective weapon at missing bats so far this season, generating a 60% whiff rate in an extremely small sample.

The Astros enter Tuesday ranked 29th in MLB in ERA, ahead of only the Colorado Rockies. The Astros also rank 29th in strikeout rate and 28th in walk rate. Houston is currently without a number of key contributors, including Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, José Urquidy, Luis Garcia, and Lance McCullers Jr. 

The Astros will continue their series against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday and wrap it up on Wednesday before enjoying an off day on Thursday. 

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