Manager Brad Mills is trying everything he can to spark this starting rotation but it may be a little too late. Steve Campbell is reporting that Mills will be shuffling the starting rotation coming out of the All-Star break.
He will be giving Brett Myers the chance to start the second half on the right foot as he will start Friday night against the Pirates. Myers has struggled all season and has looked nothing like the pitcher last year. His biggest problem has been the home run ball giving up more in the first half of 2011 then he did all of 2010.
He will be followed by one of the few pleasant surprises this season in strikeout king Bud Norris. Norris leads the Astros in ERA and strikeouts and is one of the top pitchers in MLB for K/9. Many questioned if Bud Norris could be a starter in this league and saw him more as a hard throwing relief pitcher or closer. Well he has put those questions to rest and is now being talked about as one of the cornerstones in rebuilding this Astros organization.
Left Wandy Rodriguez will follow Norris and close out the Pirates series on Sunday. July has not been a good month for Wandy who has given up 10 earned runs over 11.1 innings pitched. I think this break will do Wandy good and he should come back strong against the Pirates, a team he has generally pitched well against.
The last two spots in the rotation will be anchored by two young pitchers seemingly heading in opposite directions. Jordan Lyles will be fourth in the rotation and has pitched well this season since being called up from Triple-A. He doesn’t have a win yet but watching Lyles, fans can tell he could be very special. He has had the tough assignment of going up against the Texas Rangers twice and Boston once.
J.A. Happ will man the final spot in the rotation and this has not been a good season for the key piece in the Roy Oswalt trade last year. He has a record of 3-11, which is best for most losses by a starter pitcher in MLB right now, and has an ERA of 5.76. I don’t think it is time to write Happ off or call him a bust. He is only 28 years of age and only four years of experience but he will need to show some improvement in the second half of 2011.
The starting rotation was suppose to be the strength of the Astros in 2011 and it has been far from it. The Astros have fired the pitching coach already once, giving the seemingly impossible job to turn this rotation around to Doug Brocail. In two weeks Wandy and Brett could be pitching for new teams and the rotation could be a mess, even more than it is now. The frustrating part for me is I see enough talent here that this could be a above average rotation and time will tell if this group can come together.