CLEVELAND -- David Paulino, a 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher who went a combined 5-4 with a 2.00 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 90 innings this year at the Rookie, Double-A and Triple-A levels, was called up by the Astros on Tuesday and will start Thursday's series finale against the Indians.
Paulino, who was the player to be named in the 2013 trade in which the Astros sent Jose Veras to the Tigers in exchange for outfielder Danry Vasquez, is ranked as the Astros' No. 4 prospect by MLBPipeline.com. He'll join Joe Musgrove as rookies in the Astros' starting rotation, which is without Lance McCullers (elbow) and Dallas Keuchel (shoulder inflammation).
"It makes sense, because he's had a lot of success," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "I think when we look at what he's capable of doing, pitch-wise, repertoire-wise, command-wise, he has a chance to be a really good starter at the big leagues in short order. While it wasn't part of our plan, with Dallas missing some time we figured this as good an opportunity as we're ever going to get to put him into an important game or two and see what he's got."
Luhnow says Paulino could be at the top of their rotation in the future, but he'll be getting a key start for a team still in the Wild Card hunt in the American League. After missing all of 2014 because of Tommy John surgery, he came back and hits 93-95 mph with his fastball and can hit 98. He has a curveball and an occasional changeup.
"He's more stuff than anything," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He throws a lot of strikes. He has the Minor League career track record, but a good fastball, good breaking ball, occasional change. He's got angle. He's got 6-foot-7. It's a new look these guys up here haven't seen, and I think it's an upside play in trying to get his feet wet in the big leagues and see how his stuff plays right away."
Brad Peacock was also called up to start Tuesday in place of Keuchel, who's been shut down after coming down with shoulder inflammation following his last start. With Paulino going Thursday, the Astros will throw Musgrove (Friday), Collin McHugh (Saturday) and Mike Fiers (Sunday) in Houston against the Cubs.
"You get to September, you're in the middle of the Wild Card hunt, and your two top starters are not available, that's a blow," Luhnow said. "But it speaks to our development system that we've got guys that can come and step in. We're going to have to rely on scoring more runs. Maybe we can ratchet it up on the offensive side if our pitching isn't quite what we were hoping it to be."
When asked why rookie Chris Devenski, a former starter, doesn't get a chance to start, Hinch said he's too valuable in the role that he's in. He has a 2.16 ERA in 40 games and leads AL relievers in inherited runners scored and ranks third in relievers ERA (1.51).
"Devenski is really good at his job," Hinch said. "He's been able to respond to any challenge we've given him. ... Where we are in the calendar, we're in a really tricky situation where we're trying to not have to build him up and take the time that it takes to build him for the rest of the month.
"He's been valuable in the role, and I give him the ball. Losing him for four or five days leading up to a start and losing him four or five days after a start takes you out of 10 days' worth of competition. We don't have many 10-day stretches left. We have a couple of those left, so for us to win the most games in the next three weeks, his role and what he's doing right now is best suited for this team."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.