The Houston Astros have set their starting rotation, while closer Roberto Osuna will not be ready to open the season.
We’ve got plenty of Astros news on this Monday morning, starting with the fact that Houston manager Dusty Baker has confirmed how the team’s starting rotation will line up against the Mariners. Also, as had been suspected, it looks like closer Roberto Osuna will not be ready to start the season.
We already knew Justin Verlander would start on Opening Day, and we had a pretty good indication that Lance McCullers, Jr would pitch in the second game, which is now confirmed. What we didn’t know is how the rest of the rotation would go, but Baker confirmed most of that on Sunday.
Zack Greinke will start the season’s third game, while Josh James will go in the fourth. Greinke’s throwing schedule had been interrupted by a missed workout, so there was a question as to when he’d be ready. Baker did not name a fifth starter, but the presumption is that it will be Framber Valdez. If so, Valdez will start the first game of the Dodgers series, with Verlander following.
For the Mariners, Marco Gonzales will oppose Verlander on Opening Day. Taijuan Walker will face McCullers, Yusei Kikuchi will start opposite Greinke, and Kendall Graveman will take the hill against James.
Lacking a Closer
Baker said he’s “not sure” if Osuna will be ready to go on Opening Day. He’s yet to throw off a mound in camp, so the chances of him being ready to pitch in an actual game in a few days are pretty slim. In all likelihood, he starts the season on the shelf.
Osuna arrived to camp late “by no fault of his own,” according to Baker, who also praised the pitcher’s work ethic and said the team has had to keep him from ramping up too quickly. Interestingly, Baker also said Osuna was “in fair shape” when he arrived, which doesn’t sound like he was quite as ready as the team hoped he would be.
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Regardless, the Astros will almost certainly be without their closer to begin the season, which means Ryan Pressly would be the presumed option to finish close games. He seems to have gotten past the finger blister that sidelined him last week, so at least the team has one proven, veteran arm to use in the late innings.
Baker also confirmed that Austin Pruitt and Brad Peacock will not be ready for Opening Day while also saying Pruitt was ahead of Peacock in his readiness. Both are working their way back from nagging injuries and are sorely needed in a bullpen that’s going to feature quite a few young, unproven arms.
Kansas City Here I Come?
The Astros are scheduled to depart for Kansas City on Monday morning for their two exhibition games against the Royals, but the trip looks to be dependent on the weather. The forecast calls for high rain chances on both Monday and Tuesday, which would prevent the teams from playing in the roofless Kauffman Stadium.
The team will make its decision on Monday morning as to whether to make the trip. It doesn’t sound like they would be willing to fly up there for just one game, so it’s both or bust. If the trip doesn’t happen, the Astros would continue to work out at Minute Maid Park.