Manager Brad Mills announced today that Wandy Rodriguez will be the Opening Day starter for the Astros. This comes as no surprise as over the past few years, Wandy has been the most durable, consistent starting pitcher on the Astros staff. He will throw versus the Colorado Rockies on Good Friday, April 6 at Minute Maid Park. Jeremy Guthrie will start for the Rockies. This will be Wandy’s first Opening Day assignment for the Astros and will likely be his last. It’s no secret that Wandy is being shopped and will most likely be dealt by the trade deadline in July. If in fact he is dealt, it will truly be the end of an era in Astros baseball as he is the last player remaining on the team that made the playoffs as an Astro.
Wandy is the longest tenured Astros currently on the team and the last remaining piece of our 2005 World Series club. Having been signed by the Astros as a non-drafted free agent in 1999 from his home country of the Dominican Republic, Wandy made his major league debut in 2005 while the Astros were en route to their first ever World Series trip. Since reaching the big leagues, Wandy has made quite a name for himself with the Astros. He currently holds the club record for most strikeouts by a left handed pitcher with 1,0004 and ranks second with the club in both innings pitched with 1,176 and starts with 197. He was also voted Astros pitcher of the year in 2009 and 2011. He becomes the first left handed pitcher to get the start on Opening Day since Dave Roberts received the honor in 1974. After hearing the news, Wandy was quoted as saying:
“It will be a special day for me. It’s the same game. Nothing changes. Throw strikes. … I don’t want to put any pressure on myself for that game.”
I, for one, am glad to see him handed the ball for Opening Day.