Last season, the Houston Astros saw Lucas Harrell become their best pitcher, basically out of nowhere.
The Astros claimed Harrell from the Chicago White Sox before the 2012 season started. During Spring Training, Harrell was almost always left out of the Astros projected starting rotation. Despite being continually left out, Harrell always applied himself and came out ready to pitch, and the Astros still had the fifth spot to fill in the rotation. Harrell was ready to step up and take over that number five spot. Throughout the season, Harrell became the Astros most consistent pitcher, posting a 3.76 ERA with an 11-11 record despite being on a team that lost 107 games. Without a doubt in my mind, Harrell will be the Houston Astros’ ace in 2013.
However,this is a question some are asking about the 2013 Astros. Who will be the Astros Lucas Harrell, so to speak, of 2013? I may just have an answer for you.
Brett Wallace: John Mallee, Houston’s hitting coach, has been quoted as saying this: “Wallace is a monster.” Wallace has tweaked his stance to have his legs working more. He said he has fixed it to where he is doing it every at bat, not just every once in awhile. Moments later, Wallace launched monster shots up and out of Osceola County Stadium. Between Wallace, Chris Carter, Carlos Pena, and Nate Freiman there are a ton of options for first base.
For anyone of these guys to become the clear cut starter, they will need to separate themselves from the pack. Brett Wallace has the tools to do that.
Throughout Wallace’s Minor League career, he has shown the ability to hit for both average and power, as well as an ability to get on base frequently. In the majors, it has been a bit of different story. But for me, I’ll chalk that up to bad leadership. Bo Porter, Houston’s manager, as already spoken to Wallace about this same thing. Porter told Wallace a great deal of the Astros success will land on Wallace’s shoulders. Porter went on to say the Astros need a career year out of Wallace this season. I believe Wallace is motivated and will have his breakout year with the Houston Astros this season.
Jordan Lyles: Many Astros fans have been frustrated with Jordan Lyles. I have even heard that Lyles can’t pitch, which is absurd. Lyles came into the Majors as a 19-year old kid. A KID! According to Porter, Lyles has been impressive already this spring. I’ll admit, Lyles was frustrating to to watch last season, but it wasn’t just him. The defense let Lyles down numerous times late in games last season. A lot of that has to do with mental toughness and leadership.
At 22-years of age, Lyles is still young. With each year of struggles comes experience. Lyles is ready to step up and perform. It won’t be handed to him though. He will need to work for it throughout Spring Training. This time next year, I will be asking you who will be Houston’s 2014 Jordan Lyles. Book it.