The rotation appears set with Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers, and Mike Fiers as locks for starting assignments in 2016. Scott Feldman along with a host arms in the minors will compete for the fifth and final spot in the rotation.
Those other arms will most likely include Michael Feliz, Joseph Musgrove, Dan Straily, Asher Wojciechowski, and Chris Devenski. There may be others as well depending on how far the Astros expand their internal search. But at this time it is difficult to predict who may earn the starting job over Feldman, but whoever may will need to have a terrific spring training.
And remember, the current front office is not afraid to promote players directly from the lower minors without spending time in AAA. Just look at McCullers last season. So previous AAA or major league experience will not be the determining factor in whether someone is deemed ready to pitch for the big league squad.
However, general manager Jeff Luhnow could still target a free agent to step in and fill the role. Kennedy was an option before he signed his new deal with the Royals. Yovani Gallardo is another name that the Astros seem interested in despite the draft compensation that would go to the division rival Texas Rangers in return due to the qualifying offer. Doug Fister has been a frequently mentioned name and could prove to be a great bargain given the appropriate contract.
Even if the Astros roll with Feldman as their fifth starter, the rotation still currently projects a 13.3 WAR next season per Fangraphs Steamer projections. But it never hurts to have too much pitching; that is actually a good problem.
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