Astros: Predicting 30-man roster to begin 2020 season
The Candidates — Pitchers
We can assume the rotation is set with Verlander, Greinke, McCullers, Urquidy and either James or Pruitt. The back of the bullpen will have Osuna, Pressly and Smith, and either James or Pruitt (whichever doesn’t make the rotation) will pitch in long relief. With Devenski and Peacock taking up two spots, that actually leaves them with four more slots to fill.
Framber Valdez had been in competition for the fifth starter role as well, and he was hanging in there in competition with James and Pruitt in the spring. He has experience and he’s a left-hander, which the Astros might not otherwise have. So one spot will probably go to Valdez.
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Bryan Abreu impressed in his limited action late last season and looked good in the spring as well. At least at this point, I like him in a relief role and think he could morph into a nice bridge to the Pressly/Osuna tandem at the end. He should make the roster as well.
Cy Sneed was solid, if unspectacular, in his limited debut last year. He has the ability to go multiple innings and can even make a spot start if needed. Rogelio Armenteros might otherwise be a candidate, but after undergoing surgery in March, his readiness may be a question. I’m going to assume the team will want to give him more time.
Left-hander Blake Taylor tossed seven scoreless innings in the spring, but he also walked five in that span. Still, given his upside and the lack of left-handed pitching on this team, he has to be considered a candidate. Joe Biagini really struggled after the Astros acquired him at the 2019 trade deadline, but given his track record, he’ll be in the mix as well.
Finally, young right-hander Cristian Javier has to be an option as well. If there was a minor league season going on, I’d say the team would have him in the Triple-A rotation. But since that’s not happening, there’s always the chance they go with his upside. He struck out five in three innings of work in the spring.
So who gets the final two spots? I think Sneed gets one of them thanks to his ability to give the team multiple frames. The last one I think will come down to Biagini and Javier, and will be whomever looks better in camp. Neither is likely to stay on the roster when the roster sizes constrict, but I would lean toward the upside of Javier.
Of course all of this will depend on how things go with injuries and the COVID-19 virus as well. We could possibly see all of these players and more over the course of the season if the virus has a bigger impact than anyone would like. But for now, this is how the Opening Day roster could shake out.