Astros have no shortage of rotation candidates

Brett Myers’ move to the closer role all but guarantees Livan Hernandez will start the season in the Astros rotation, unless he has a terrible spring or gets injured. Hernandez, who has never been on the disabled list in his 15-year career, can eat up the innings that were lost from in the rotation with Myers being moved to the bullpen.

It’s also good news for Lucas Harrell, Zach Duke, Henry Sosa, Kyle Weiland and everybody else competing for a rotation spot. One open spot has become two, giving someone an opportunity they wouldn’t have had if Myers had stayed in the rotation.

The top three spots in the rotation appear to be set with Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris and J.A. Happ. The next five weeks will be about competition and finding out who’s the best option to complete the final two spots in the rotation, or one if you believe Hernandez is a lock.

Lyles and Sosa both made their Major League debuts for the Astros last season and made a handful of starts, and Harrell was claimed off waivers last year from the White Sox. Duke, a non-roster invitee, is the only lefty of that bunch.

The Astros ranked 14th in the 16-team National League last year with a 4.52 ERA as a starting staff. Rodriguez (11-11, 3.49 ERA) pitched well, but Norris (6-11, 3.77 ERA) struggled with control at times and didn’t get good run support and Happ (6-15, 5.35 ERA) had a woeful first four months.

While the Astros are hopeful all four can pitch to their potential this year, they added more arms to the mix this winter in case someone gets injured or isn’t up to the task at hand. Or if someone gets moved to the bullpen.

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