With the first spring training game two days away, manager Brad Mills and the Astros have gotten their pitching rotation all set. Wandy Rodriguez will start the first game followed by Brett Myers, J.A. Happ and Bud Norris. According to the chron.com, each starter will pitch two innings and they will try to work a total of seven or eight pitchers in each game.
It is sometimes tough to judge pitcher’s performance in spring training as many of them will try out different pitches that they have been working on, different throwing motions, etc. but here are a couple of pitchers to watch in the four games coming up outside of the starters.
February 28th at Atlanta:Wesley Wright is expected to pitch in this game and I am sure he wants to get off to a fast start this spring. He has regularly bounced between Round Rock and the Astros the past two years and I am sure he is getting tired of it. He would be a great lefty coming out of the bullpen this season for the Astros. The other pitcher to watch is Lance Pendleton, who was a Rule 5 draft pick from the Yankees this year. He will also need to get off to a fast start if he wants to stay with the Astros as he will have to spend the duration of the season at the major league level for the Astros to keep him. For anyone who doesn’t understand the Rule 5 draft and how it works, take a second and read the great write up by Greg explaining the details of it here.
March 1st vs. Atlanta: Even though Brett Myers is starting, Ryan Rowland-Smith should be the pitcher most fans want to see. He was signed as a free agent away from Seattle and will be looking for a strong showing. Rowland-Smith is in competition for that final spot in the rotation and a strong showing against Atlanta will give him a leg up on the competition.
March 2nd at Detroit:Wilton Lopez will pitch in his first game against Detroit and is in competition with Mark Melancon for the set-up role coming out of the bullpen. Lopez came to the Astros in 2009 and was a key arm out of the bullpen in 2010 and will look to keep that role in 2011.
March 2nd at NY Yankees: Bud Norris will lead the split squad into Tampa to take on the Yankees but most eyes will be on rookie phenom Jordan Lyles. He is the top prospect in the minor league system and has an outside chance of claiming that fifth spot in the rotation. At 20 years of age he has quickly moved through the farm system and would love nothing more than getting a chance to start the 2011 season at the major league level.