Houston Astros: The Case For Scott Feldman in Starting Rotation

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Mar 11, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Scott Feldman (46) throws in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Scott Feldman (46) throws in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Houston Astros starting rotation depth will be tested early in 2016.

With Lance McCullers starting the regular season on the disabled list due to right shoulder inflammation, the Houston Astros have an empty spot in their starting rotation. Currently in the middle of a good spring, young right-hander Michael Feliz has been put into consideration to round out the starting rotation. So far, Feliz has been stellar posting a 0.90 ERA with eight strikeouts in his ten innings pitched. However, with the playoff potential this team has, the Astros should go with the proven, veteran presence of Scott Feldman to give them stability at the end of the rotation.

In the 2013 offseason, the Astros signed Feldman to a three-year $30 million deal to be the veteran presence on what was at the time one of the youngest teams in baseball. For the past two seasons, Feldman has not been spectacular but has gotten the job done. He has gone 13-17 with a 3.80 ERA.

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Strikeouts have never been a part of Feldman’s game, only averaging 5.2 strikeouts per nine innings in his time with the Astros. That is in part due to his velocity. Feldman does not blow anyone away with his pitching averaging close to ninety on all three of his fastball variations. He relies on his cutter and sinker-throwing them a combined 65.3% of the time last year. Based on his repertoire, Feldman has been a ground ball pitcher for his whole career. Normally, his ground ball percentage has been near the 50% mark.

So with stable numbers throughout his career, why is there a question whether he could handle the back end of the Astros rotation? Part of it was his roller coaster 2015 season that ended in September because of injury.

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However, before the injury, Feldman was pitching some of his best games in an Astros uniform. From May 26th to his last start of the season on September 1st, Feldman only gave up 16 earned runs in his 54.1 innings pitched which calculates to a 2.66 ERA. He also gave up only six home runs in that span. The odd thing about that stretch of games was that he was only a part of 3 decisions where he had two wins and a loss.

Even though Feldman has not been so good in Spring Training this season, in his 8.2 innings, he has a 5.19 ERA with five strikeouts and a 1.15 WHIP, he has been consistent with a career 5.39 ERA in spring.

With A.J. Hinch leaning towards 12 pitchers on his active roster and the long relief spot seemingly locked up with a fantastic showing from Wandy Rodriguez, this last starting spot, although temporary, is important to set the tone for a complete starting rotation throughout the season. Even though it is going against the Astros trend of calling younger guys up, Feldman will be the most stable option to provide stability at the back end of the rotation.

Next: Houston Astros: Michael Feliz is Next Man Up in Rotation

So what should you expect out of Feldman? Well, the high eighties to low nineties fastball with movement that will find a way to get hitters out, even if it may not be in the most flashy way. In the end, Feldman is a veteran presence who could provide quality innings for a rotation suddenly testing its depth early.

**Statistics provided by Astros.com and FanGraphs**

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