Astros Will Go With a Hybrid Six-Man Rotation
The Houston Astros have a big decision to make over the next several days on several fronts.
The most notable move will be Lance McCullers joining the team to start Saturday. Despite Chris Devenski‘s strong performance yesterday, it was thought that he was ticketed back to the bullpen once McCullers arrives. Unless Doug Fister gets pounded around today, his spot should be locked in. (These were my thoughts yesterday, but a Tweet changed that view.)
When McCullers is activated, most likely Michael Feliz will be optioned back to Triple-A. I think that would be a mistake as he is pitching better than he has at any point in his brief MLB career. He looks dominant at the moment as he struck out the side in the ninth inning on 12 pitches. The mistakes that Feliz made last season and to begin the season this year helped him to learn how to pitch in the big leagues. He and Scott Feldman have been two of the most consistent members of the bullpen recently.
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Which pitcher will stay in the rotation between Devenski and Mike Fiers? The answer is c, all of the above. Per Brian McTaggart, the Astros will have six pitchers in the rotation for at least the next 10-12 days. They will keep Dallas Keuchel on regular rest, but the others will pitch with more than regular rest, but not in any particular order. For example, if you had to choose between Devenski and Fiers versus the Rangers, I would say Devenski gets the nod. In other words, based on when the matchup is right for a particular pitcher.
The Astros rotation has vastly improved over the past week plus, according to McTaggart, starting pitchers have had a 2.25 ERA over the past six starts. The past six starters have put up quality starts, including two by Devenski. What was a once an eyesore for the Astros has turned into a strength for the Astros! Fiers will be available this weekend to pitch out of the bullpen, but he will still make some starts. I repeat, this is not a six-man rotation, and they will just use six starting pitchers during this time.
Next: Houston Astros: The Long Relief Battle Reopened
The Astros at 13-21 have a steep hill to climb this year because of their terrible start. They have played better in May and have to focus on winning months, and then the rest will follow. Maybe over the next 10-12 days, one pitcher will fall out of the running. Until then, here is something to close with, the Astros eventually have to find a place for Joseph Musgrove. No decision has been made on the corresponding move for when McCullers is activated.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***