3 dark horse candidates for the last spot in the Astros' Opening Day rotation

The Astros have some important decisions to make with their rotation this spring.

Houston Astros Summer Workouts
Houston Astros Summer Workouts / Bob Levey/GettyImages
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Colton Gordon

Heading down to the minor leagues, we have lefthander Colton Gordon who doesn't get the love he probably deserves from prospect evaluators. Houston's eighth round pick in the 2021 draft made waves immediately upon making his pro debut and he made his way all the way to Triple-A in 2023 while posting a 4.14 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 128.1 innings of work.

Gordon is a weird one because he had Tommy John in 2021 and since returning, he hasn't thrown the ball particularly hard and his ability to throw strikes took a step back. However, the strikeout numbers have been a big surprise as his lower slot has made all of his offering hard to pick up and his fastball play up when he hits the top of the strike zone or just above it.

There are some issues with Gordon getting a rotation spot, however, First, he isn't on the 40 man roster yet, so going with him would necessitate a 40 man roster move, starting his service clock, and could potentially give the early edge to those candidates that are already on the 40 man based on the backend roster/service time logistics alone.

That said, if the Astros are strictly looking at who are the team's best five/six pitchers this spring and going with them, Gordon is going to be in the running. His stuff may not jump off the page in terms of velocity, but hitters can't seem to figure him out and that, at the end of the day, is the data that matters the most.