(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
A big reason for the Houston Astros’ 18-game improvement in 2014 was their terrific starting pitching. Led by pitching coach Brent Strom, who The Houston Chronicle is reporting will be brought back next year as part of new manager A.J. Hinch‘s staff, the Astros made a huge turnaround on the mound this season. In 2014, Houston’s starting pitchers combined for a 3.82 ERA after having a 4.72 ERA in 2013. In fact, only the Cardinals, Nationals, Dodgers, and Astros had two starters with at least 150+ IP and a sub-3.00 ERA this season (Houston’s were Keuchel and McHugh).
At the end of the year, the rotation consisted of Dallas Keuchel, Scott Feldman, Collin McHugh, Brett Oberholtzer, Brad Peacock, and Nick Tropeano. Those are the six guys who made the biggest impacts and have the best chance of making the rotation next season. Jarred Cosart and Lucas Harrell made a few starts earlier in the year, but are no longer a part of the team. The Astros also got a couple spot starts from Jake Buchanan, Sam Deduno, and Rudy Owens, but those pitchers aren’t really in the mix moving forward.
This offseason, the Astros will have to completely rebuild their bullpen (which was last in MLB with an ERA of 4.80) and they could also spend some money on a front-of-the-line starter. However, I think Houston will bring back a very similar rotation as last year, but have Tropeano as the fifth starter instead of Peacock. There’s also Mike Foltynewicz, who could become a front-line starter, and a few minor league candidates (like Asher Wojciechowski) that the Astros may consider in 2015.
For now, let’s focus on and review the six-man rotation they closed the season with (Keuchel, Feldman, McHugh, Oberholtzer, Peacock, and Tropeano) and see how each one of their pitchers performed in 2014: