Bo Porter finally announced his plans on the starting rotation. Porter announced that Bud Norris would be the opening day starter, throwing the first pitch of the MLB season against the Rangers on ESPN. Porter acknowledged that the opening day starter would get around three more starts at home before the All-Star break. Norris had a 1.71 ERA at home last year, so giving him as many home starts as possible, benefits the Astros in more than one way. With Norris starting, Porter announced that Lucas Harrell will be the #2 pitcher behind Bud.
Besides announcing the first two slots, the Astros also made other moves to help decide the other three rotation spots. Porter announced that Philip Humber will be the #3 SP. The 30-year old has 1.29 ERA and 0.64 WHIP in 14 innings this spring. With the remaining two spots the Astros will decide between Erik Bedard, Alex White, and Brad Peacock, with the “loser” possibly taking the long-relief role.
The other big announcement was the demotion of Jordan Lyles. Lyles was demoted after struggling all spring training. Earlier in the offseason it seemed like Lyles was a lock for the #3 spot, but a rough spring sent him back down to Triple-A. Porter said, “I want Lyles to go to Class AAA, build himself back up, return to the MLB, then never visit the minors again. I told (Lyles) it’s not a demotion, it’s a delay.” Lyles will join John Ely, who was also demoted to Triple-A.
Even with the the announcement of the starting rotation, things could still change just before the season starts. There have been a few reports of different teams having interest in both Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell. Today GM Jeff Luhnow said that Harrell and Norris are a big part of the club and it would take a “significant” offer to move either of them at this point. He also said that it’s hard to imagine trading Norris or Harrell right now, but the club is always one call/text away from a trade, though nothing is imminent at this time.
With just about one more week to go until the season starts, the Astros have set three of the five rotation spots, and will likely decide on the final two spots later next week.