Why Wandy Rodriguez is a lock to make the Houston Astros opening day roster with Neal Cotts’ release today.
The Houston Astros had a few deadlines to put MLB veterans, Neal Cotts and Wandy Rodriguez, on the 40-man roster by today, Friday, March 25. Should the two players not be placed on the 40-man roster, they would have the option to accept a minor league assignment facing another deadline in June or be released from their minor league contract. Both players are left-handed pitchers, with Cotts being more of a one inning specialist and Rodriguez more suited to be a starter or long guy in the bullpen.
Astros fans have highly anticipated this date as the day where the roster will start to fall into place. Both pitchers have been impressive this spring; Rodriguez had more innings with some turns as the starting pitcher, but towards the end, they tried to stretch Cotts out a little to potentially make him the long guy in the bullpen. Without looking at the innings, both players had similar success this spring, so choosing between the two was not easy.
Let’s take a look at the stats from Cotts and Rodriguez’s spring training.
Rodriguez: 1-0/ 2.13 ERA/ 12.2 innings pitched/ 0 walks/ 11 strikeouts in five games
Cotts: 1-0/ 2.45 ERA/ 7.1 innings pitched/ 2 walks/ 4 strikeouts in seven games.
This stats look like vintage Wandy from a decade ago, but he is 37 years old and struggled last season towards the end of the years with the Astros’ rivals Texas Rangers. This spring is one of the few times in his career with the Astros that he had to fight for a job, except his first few spring training. With that said, his career spring training stats are not close to his regular season stats. He has a career 9-18 record with a 5.92 ERA, so his success this year goes against his norm.
Today is Cotts’ birthday, so instead of getting a happy birthday card from the Astros, he got his unconditional release from the Astros instead according to Evan Drellich. Don’t feel sorry for Cotts, people with the Minnesota Twins are already saying that they hope he comes back to play for them. They also option Jandel Gustave and Keven Chapman back to minor league camp, getting the players at camp down to 40 players heading to Mexico according to Julia Morales.
With the release of Cotts and optioning Chapman, I would like to be one of the first people to place a stone cold lock on Wandy making the opening day roster as the only other left-hander in camp next to Tony Sipp. My opinion is that the Astros saw the value of having Wandy on the team over Cotts because of his ability to eat up some innings when needed, and can bounce back if needed for one batter a few days later. This ability was tested in yesterday’s game as Wandy was brought to pitch only two-thirds of an inning after pitching four innings four days ago.
Should Wandy struggle in that role, the Astros do have Chapman who had a surprisingly good spring training. When Astros stud young pitcher is ready to return following shoulder soreness, the Astros might have to reevaluate the situation of the long man in the bullpen, but for now, it’s Wandy’s job to lose.
**Stats from MLB.com**