Aug 20, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcherJose Veras
(55) pitches against the New York Yankees during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. The Astros defeated the Yankees 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
The Rest of the Pack
This group of guys will be fighting for the last two spots, and I have them listed out in no particular order.
Will Harris: The way Jeff Luhnow spoke of Will Harris at the bloggers roundtable, you have to believe that Harris has a leg up on the rest of this group. Luhnow stated that he knows he made a good move if he gets phone calls from other GM’s on if a player is available to be traded, and that he received a lot of inquiries about Harris. Although he could have a leg up, he’ll need to show it to Hinch and the rest of the Astros staff that he deserves a spot. He only pitched in 29 innings with a 4.34 ERA last season for Arizona, but even those numbers are deceiving. He had two outings where he gave up a combined 8 ER, and didn’t allow anything above 2 ER during any other outing last season. If Harris can put up similar numbers, he indeed will be a steal for the Astros.
James Hoyt: Hoyt came over in the Evan Gattis trade, and he’s another guy that the Astros are fond of. He did struggle at the AAA level last year, and has yet to step on a Major League mound. With that being said, his chances of making the squad are slim, but if he can pitch like he did at all of the other Minor League levels, he won’t be waiting too long to make his debut if/when somebody in the bullpen goes down or struggles.
Kevin Chapman: Chapman struggled quite a bit last year out of the gate, but found himself again in his time with OKC. Once coming back up for good on August 16th, he allowed 3 ER in 2.1 innings in his first outing. From that point forward, Chapman allowed one run in 13.1 innings of work through the end of the season. He also struck out ten while only walking one during that time. Although he allowed ten hits, he worked himself out of jams and only one runner came across to score. If Chapman can continue to pitch that way, he’ll find himself a spot in the bullpen.
Sam Deduno: Deduno was picked up by the Astros in September off waivers from the Twins, and was able to eat up some innings at the very end and brought some relief from some potential worn down arms. He had a 4.47 ERA overall on the season and pitched 100.2 innings, his second consecutive season throwing 100+. With Deduno having ML experience, I can see him being an option that the Astros take a long look at, as they are past the days of having to rely on Minor League guys filling out the Major League roster.
The 5th Rotation Spot Runner-Up: The battle for the last rotation spot will be a four man race between Dan Straily, Jake Buchanan, Asher Wojciechowski, and Alex White. Whoever just misses the cut very well could find himself in the bullpen as a long relief guy. I don’t think that the Astros necessarily need one this year as long as the rotation can do what it did last year, but that will be up to Hinch and his staff to decide. Regardless, you have to consider these men as possible bullpen candidates as long as a spot it open.
Jose Veras: No, he isn’t officially an Astro. But there is a chance he does join the team as he is in talks with Houston and three other teams. Veras had a great 2013 as an Astro and Tiger before having a disastrous 2014 in Chicago and being claimed to come back to Houston. Once he was in an Astro uniform again, he settled down. He really came into his own in the second half of the season, and if Veras signs with the Astros, you can add him to the previous group of five.