When you look at the Houston Astros‘ large compilation of starting pitchers, it’s actually kind of surprising to see the top four rotation spots being about as set as they’ve been in years. Recently-acquired innings-eater Scott Feldman will be the ace, with the young trio of Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock holding down the next three spots, hoping to continue the excellent numbers they put up at the end of 2013.
But after those four names, it’s a total crapshoot. There really is no front-runner for the fifth spot in the rotation, which may also breed a sixth spot depending on how the Astros want to play it.
Dallas Keuchel held the spot last year, and while he had some shining moments, inconsistency still plagues him. Lucas Harrell will undoubtedly be thrown into the mix, but after his complete implosion last year following a stoic 2012, he’s got a lot of ground to make up to prove he’s worth the shot.
Then there are several unproven talents. Names like Paul Clemens, Colin McHugh and Alex White have all seen MLB time, but have been average at best. Then there’s Rudy Owens and Asher Wojciechowski, who featured as starting pitchers in the minors, but are getting to the age where they need to start making an impact on the major league level.
And just for the fun of it, throw in Mike Foltynewicz and Mark Appel because it’s fun to think about them in an Astros uniform. It’s incredibly difficult to go through those names and single one out as ‘the guy’. There just isn’t enough basis to formulate a clear opinion.
But it couldn’t hurt to try, I suppose. Wojciechowski proved to be a steady, controlled pitcher in triple-A last year. He doesn’t walk a ton, doesn’t surrender the long ball too much, and opponents only hit .223 against him. The Astros were clearly taking their time on Wojo as he had the numbers to merit a call-up. A strong Spring Training could make it difficult to exclude him from the fifth spot of the Astros rotation.