Astros shake up rotation competition with latest spring training cuts

Houston made some big moves down at spring training that really provided clarity to their roster plans.
Mar 8, 2024; Clearwater, Florida, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Spencer Arrighetti (75) throws a pitch
Mar 8, 2024; Clearwater, Florida, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Spencer Arrighetti (75) throws a pitch / Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros have a few pretty tough decisions to make regarding their pitching staff down at spring training. Technically speaking, they had enough veteran depth to fill out their rotation and bullpen, but the greater upside lied with giving young arms like Spencer Arrighetti and Forrest Whitley an opportunity. The latter option came with some risk for a team that is looking to contend in 2024, though, so fans had been waiting for indications as to which direction the team would go.

On Sunday, we got a pretty definitive answer as to what the Astros were going to do in the short-term, as the team announced that both Arrighetti and Whitley were sent back over to minor league camp.

Astros News: Houston sends both Arrighetti and Whitley to MiLB camp in latest roster cuts

The ramifications of these moves for the Astros heading into the season are quite substantial. With Justin Verlander starting the season on the injured list and JP France still trying to ramp up after his own delay, the path has seemingly been cleared for Hunter Brown and possible Ronel Blanco to start the season in the Astros' rotation once Arrighetti was sent back to minor league camp. Based on the praise that Arrighetti received this spring, we could see him sooner rather than later.

As for Whitley, the righty receiving one last additional minor league option this winter gave Houston some flexibility on how to handle him in 2024. Whitley was receiving rave reviews for how his stuff looked as he transitioned to the bullpen, but a finger injury has slowed him down this spring. Being able to option him means that Whitley can heal up and get acclimated down in the minors before finally getting his shot at a big league spot sometime this season.

Ray Gaither was also send back over to MiLB camp. Gaither had a pretty strong 2023 season at Double-A, but he struggled with walks in the Arizona Fall League and got knocked around a bit in his three appearances this spring.

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