Grading the Astros Rotation
The rotation was supposed to be a strong point of the Houston Astros team, but the shoulder injury to McCullers has allowed Fiers, Feldman, and Fister all begin the season in the Astros rotation. Over the next few days, I will a bold prediction piece that not only will Michael Feliz join the rotation at some point this year, but he will also stay there for the next five years. With the talent up and coming, that seems hard to believe, but the current rotation is good but not great without McCullers.
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What else can we say about Keuchel, how many runs has he given up all preseason? That’s right, the answer is zero, your prize is that you get to watch or follow this special pitcher. McHugh has turned into a value claim as a player who fell out of the picture with the Mets, but has become a star with the Astros. He should be the best pitcher behind Keuchel until McCullers returns.
Fiers could be the most important guy in the bullpen because he knows how to pitch without throwing hard, similar to Keuchel. Fiers threw a no-hitter in 2015 against the Dodgers as part of the tide changing series where the Astros swept them. I’m not entirely sold on Fister at this moment, and I know what to expect from Feldman, so it will be interesting to see who goes down when McCullers is ready. Reid Ryan is a huge fan of what Feldman can do which is eat innings even when he is struggling.
The success of the bullpen overall will depend on the ability of the rotation to go deep into games. With the veteran presence in the back of the rotations, this could lead to less reliance on the bullpen. The silver lining to the McCullers injury is that he will be more likely to pitch in October now versus if he would have started the season healthy.
Fan Quote: “Keuchel and McHugh are the rocks, but everything (in my opinion) rests on Fiers offering quality innings and McCullers’ health. Fister should be serviceable as a 4-5 starter. Luhnow could add a starter midseason.” @SteveinLC
Next: Grading the Bullpen