Jarred Cosart (David Manning-USA TODAY Sports)
And then there were 13. For better or worse, and perhaps by default, Bo Porter and Jeff Luhnow have made a preliminary decision on the 13 pitchers they will take to Houston to start the season.
Some roles are still in flux, and I would expect to see at least one change in the first two weeks of the season. There will also be a roster move coming when Jesse Crain is healthy and ready to come off the Disabled List.
If there was one omission that stuck out to me, it was Josh Zeid. Zeid showed potential last season as a hard thrower in the back end of the bullpen who could be counted for critical outs, but was inconsistent this spring. The right-hander had a 4.15 ERA in 8.2 innings, but his WHIP was 1.85. That clearly needs to improving upon, but we will see Zeid in Houston at some point this season.
Another issue that Porter and Luhnow had to deal with, was options, or the lack thereof. Both Brad Peacock and Lucas Harrell are out of them, which means the Astros risk losing them if they don’t make the team.
We also must keep in mind, that a definitive closer has not been named, but I stand by my statement that Chad Qualls will get first crack at the role.
Let’s take a look at the initial pitching staff:
- Starters (3): Scott Feldman, Jarred Cosart, and Brett Oberholtzer. All are deserving of their rotation spots, and no one should be surprised.
- Right Handed Relievers (4): Qualls, Matt Albers, Josh Fields, Anthony Bass. The two veterans will be counted on to solidify the bullpen and provide stability that was lacking last season. Fields has the potential to be a future closer and the hard throwing Bass also figures to have a role this season.
- Left Handed Relievers (2): Kevin Chapman, and Raul Valdes. Chapman showed he can be counted on last season and Valdes is a solid veteran.
- Back-End of the Rotation and Long Men (4): Lucas Harrell, Dallas Keuchel, Brad Peacock, Jerome Williams. My first thought going into camp was that Peacock and Williams would fill the last two rotation spots, Harrell would be in a different organization, and Keuchel would be in AAA. After Monday’s start against Atlanta, Keuchel’s ERA is now 5.82 so I would expect him to be the long man out of the bullpen along with Williams and his 5.84 ERA.