Astros have plenty of options in the rotation
In the past few days, the Astros have added to their pitching depth by signing Philip Humber and trading for Alex White, both of whom are expected to compete for a rotation spot. What we know for sure is the top three spots in the rotation are set with Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell and Jordan Lyles, barring a trade.
The Astros are getting interest in Norris, who’s eligible for arbitration for the first time. They’ve created enough depth where they could trade Norris and have options in the rotation.
Here’s a look at the candidates for the final two spots in the rotation:
RHP Alex White: White appeared in 23 games (20 starts) for the Rockies last season and was 2-9 with a 5.51 ERA. He split the season between Colorado and Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he went 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA. White is 24, and GM Jeff Luhnow says he has top-of-the-rotation stuff. He’s going to be given every opportunity to win the spot.
RHP Philip Humber: Humber, 29, went 5-5 with a 6.44 ERA in 26 games (16 starts) for the White Sox. In 16 overall appearances as a starter, Humber finished 5-5 with a 6.14 ERA over 88 innings and has gone winless over his last 15 starts at U.S. Cellular Field dating back to 2011. He had an 8.36 ERA over 14 innings covering 10 relief appearances. Perhaps a return to his home state and a fresh start will get him on track.
LHP Dallas Keuchel: The lefty had an up-and-down season in his rookie debut last season, which included a complete game win in his second start. He wound up going 3-8 with a 5.27 ERA in 16 starts and showed enough to get another look in the spring. The competition has gotten tougher, so Keuchel will have to pitch well to win a spot.
RHP Jarred Cosart: Luhnow floated the idea Tuesday of perhaps moving Cosart to closer. He’s working on refining a third pitch, which is essential for a starting pitcher, but his powerful fastball could make him successful in the latter innings. I still think Cosart will be given a shot to start, but he’s said he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make the club.
LHP Brett Oberholtzer: Oberholtzer, 23, split his 2012 season between Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City, combining to post a 10-10 record with a 4.37 ERA in 28 starts. He began his 2012 season with Corpus Christi and earned Texas League All-Star honors before his promotion to Oklahoma City, where he went 3-5 with a 3.31 ERA in 10 starts. He was added to the 40-man roster last month, but he’s a long shot to make the club.
RHP Jose Cisnero: Cisnero, 23, was among the organization’s leaders in victories in 2012, posting a 13-7 record in 28 combined starts at Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City with a 3.70 ERA. Cisnero, who was twice named Texas League Player of the Week, had one of the top strikeouts-per-innings ratios among starting pitchers with 148 strikeouts in 148 1/3 innings of work. Expect him to open of the season as one of the top starters in Oklahoma City.