An early Astros rotational primer


Troy Taormina – USA TODAY Sports

Before Jerome Williams signed with the Astros, it could have been assumed that Jeff Luhnow and Bo Porter would enter Spring Training with Scott Feldman and his ground ball as the only definite to open the season in the starting rotation.  Other candidates like Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer, Brad Peacock, Asher Wojciechowski and Lucas Harrell would be expected to settle the remaining four spots.

Williams signed a guaranteed major league deal for $2.1 million, so he will find a role somewhere.  His contract calls for modest bonuses for starts and innings pitched, so it seems natural to fit Williams somewhere in the back half of the rotation.

So if Williams joins Feldman in the Opening Day rotation, who of the previously mentioned arms is headed to the bullpen, Oklahoma City, or perhaps moved in trade?

Jarred Cosart – The outspoken League City, Texas native possesses perhaps the most enticing arsenal of any pitcher in camp, but must reign in elevated H/9 and BB/9 numbers to prove his 1.95 ERA from 2013 was not a fluke.

Destination on Opening Day:      Houston

Brett Oberholtzer – Perhaps the saving grace from the panned Michael Bourn trade with Atlanta in 2011, Oberholtzer gave the Astros an unexpected boost in the second half of 2013.  The left-hander posted 8.3 K/9 and an ERA of 2.76 over 71.2 IP.

Destination on Opening Day:      Houston

Brad Peacock – A member of three organizations in his professional career, Peacock spent two different stints in the Houston rotation in 2013.  After a demotion to Oklahoma City and brief appearance with the Astros in mid-June, Peacock joined the rotation for good in early August and provided six quality starts to finish the year.

Destination on Opening Day:      Houston

Asher Wojciechowski – If the Citadel graduate provides a spring line in 2014 similar to his 2013 numbers, it could be impossible to keep him out of the Opening Day rotation.  He isn’t really a prospect anymore due to his advanced age, but Jeff Luhnow and Bo Porter will leave that variable out of any roster formulation.

Destination on Opening Day:      Oklahoma City

Minus a hot spring by someone like Mike Foltynewicz or Lucas Harrell, Cosart, Oberholtzer and Peacock should open the season in the rotation, with Wojciechowski a short trip away.  If just two of the three can give the Astros 30 starts and/or 175-180 quality innings, it allows Bo Porter to keep an improved bullpen healthier throughout the 162-game season and the Astros the advantage of having six or seven quality rotational options to choose from.