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Houston Astros Bold Roster Prediction: Make Room for Brad Peacock

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Will Brad Peacock beat the odds and earn a spot on the 25-man roster?

Not too long ago it appeared that the right-hander was part of the Houston Astros long-term plans for the future. After all, Brad Peacock was one of the main pieces to return to Houston in the first Jed Lowrie trade way back in 2013. And at the time of the trade, he was ranked fifth in Oakland’s top twenty prospects, who also acquired him in the Gio Gonzalez trade with Washington back in 2011. So he clearly had the talent that enticed both the Astros and Athletics to trade for him at separate points in time.

Unfortunately, Peacock’s career has not followed the trajectory that most people expected it to take. For instance, his 2015 season can be considered a lost opportunity, which came on the heels of a up-and-down 2014. Per a recent article from Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, hip surgery following the 2014 season and later an issue involving a pinched nerve in his back caused the former 41st round pick to make in only one start for the major league start this past year. And now he is fighting for a spot on the 25-man roster as the fifth starter or perhaps as a reliever. But he may have a legit shot at pulling that off.

Heading into Spring Training there appears to be a lieu of candidates under consideration the final spot in the rotation. Barring a trade or free-agent acquisition, Peacock, Scott Feldman, Chris Devenski, Dan Straily, Michael Feliz, Joseph MusgroveAsher Wojciechowski, and Brady Rodgers are the most likely options to receive an audition. Needless to say, the former Athletic will face stiff competition as there are both promising prospects and experienced veterans in the running for that coveted fifth starting assignment.

Then there is the bullpen which includes the likes of Ken Giles, Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, Tony Sipp, Josh Fields, and Will Harris. However, that does mean there could be a spot open for a pitcher like Peacock, who may transition better as a reliever than a starter. In fact, Peacock according to Baseball Reference projects to have a 4.50 ERA with an 8.1 SO9 in 70 innings of work next season. Projections, as I’ve stated in the past, are finicky, but, at least, gives us a place to start.

But why would Peacock be tabbed as the fifth starter or reliever ahead of the other candidates? For one, it is the promise that Peacock has shown in the past that could lead the Astros to take another chance on the soon-to-be 28-year old pitcher. One cannot forget his success within the minors (AAA: 2.43 ERA, 24.3% K% in 2013). His fastball, curveball, and slider forms the bulk of his repertoire, and if he can recapture the form he showed in this at-bat against Brandon Moss in 2014, then the Astros would have to be thrilled.

Of course, that is contingent on a terrific showing in spring training over the coming months, which is easier said than done. And even though he experienced plenty of trials during his previous stints, the fact remains that he has shown the ability to pitch at the major league level. That won’t be the deciding factor in the Astros performance, but he is familiar about pitching with the big boys. This could carry some weight if any of the younger arms have similar showings in Florida this spring.

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It is difficult to tell if Peacock will end up a starter or reliever coming out of camp.  The odds are that he get his first audition in the rotation, and if it goes south, then he may be bumped to bullpen duty. And with one remaining option left, there is a possibility he could find himself in the minors to begin the season. However, if he has a good showing in February and March, then it is very likely that he will find himself in an Astros uniform come to Opening Day in New York. Just in what capacity will be determined.

**Statistics are provided by Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference**

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