Results tagged ‘ Opening DAy starter ’

Norris named Opening Day starter, Lyles to Triple-A

Astros manager Bo Porter on Wednesday named right-hander Bud Norris as the team’s Opening Day starter. Norris will start March 31 against the Rangers, with Lucas Harrell pitching April 2 and Philip Humber going in the April 3 series finale.

It will be the first career Opening Day assignment for Norris, who went 7-13 with a 4.65 ERA in 29 starts for the Astros last year, including a 1.71 ERA at Minute Maid Park. Norris will be the fourth different pitcher to start on Opening Day for the Astros following Wandy Rodriguez (2012), Brett Myers (2011) and Roy Oswalt (2003-10).

“Bud Norris has done everything we’ve asked him to do from the time I’ve taken the job to being that leader that this organization needs,” Porter said. “You look at his home and road splits and how well he’s pitched at Minute Maid Park and how well he’s pitched in big games… I think he gets up for big games.

“Even as far back as last year, he had the second-best ERA in all of baseball pitching at home and the Opening Day starter, if you look at it, if they stay on turn and stay  healthy, that guy will get three more starts at Minute Maid Park between now and All-Star break. It was all those factors, combined with the history that goes with it. He’s our most-veteran [starting] pitcher, outside of [Erik] Bedard.”

The rest of the rotation is unknown, but the Astros did option right-handers Jordan Lyles and John Ely to Triple-A Oklahoma City, meaning Lyles won’t be in the rotation to start the year. Alex White, Brad Peacock, Edgar Gonzalez and Bedard are battling for the final two spots in the rotation, though it’s more likely Gonzalez will be used in long relief.

Lyles had allowed 36 hits and 23 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings this spring.

“When you look at it, Philip Humber has pitched terrific this spring and is an experienced guy,” Porter said. “We brought guys like Humber, White and Bedard in there because we wanted to add more experience to the rotation, but if you look at Jordan Lyles, he’s 22 years old and we believe he’s going to be part of the rotation for many years to come. Even in my conversation with him I said, ‘Roy Halladay was sent to the Minor Leagues.’ … I told him, ‘This is not a demotion, this is a delay. You go down there and take care of your business and you’ll be back here shortly.'”

Porter to use five-man rotation early in season

Astros manager Bo Porter said he’ll open the season with a five-man rotation despite the surplus of off days early in the year. The Astros have four off days in the first three weeks of the season, but Porter said he plans to stick with five starters throughout April.

“I’m a proponent of you take the off days,” he said. “You can’t duplicate the intensity we’ll have once we get to Minute Maid ballpark. That’s not to say that Spring Training, the preparation part of it, isn’t difficult, but you can’t duplicate that energy. Early in the year, I’ve always leaned on the side of giving the guys the extra off day, and later in the year if you have to skip a guy, we’ll skip a guy at that point.”

Porter also said he won’t decide on an Opening Day starting pitcher until later in camp. Right-handers Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell are the two candidates to take the mound on March 31 against the Rangers. Porter said several factors will play into the decision, including who the pitchers will match up against later in the month and where they will pitch (home or road).

Whichever pitcher starts on Opening Day would come back and start at home on April 7, but the No. 2 pitcher in the rotation would take his second start of the season on the road. Both Norris and Harrell were very strong at home last year. Norris led the NL with a 1.71 ERA at home last year, and Harrell ranked fifth with a 2.34 ERA at Minute Maid Park.

“Those are all factors that from a managerial standpoint you take those things into consideration,” Porter said. “You look at your opponents, you look at your division and you want to have your best guys going against division foes. You want to see your rotation stack up for the long haul where you have your best guys going against your division foes.”

The Astros’ first 15 games in 2013 and 18 of their first 21 games are against AL West foes.

Here’s what else is going on with the Astros:

  • The Astros are being cautious with left-hander Erik Bedard, who has a strain to his right glute. He hopes to get on the mound in the next few days.
  • Norris will start the Feb. 12 game against the Marlins in Jupiter, Fla. Norris’ scheduled day to throw would be Monday, but the Astros are off and Porter plans to make sure the players don’t have to come to the facility.

MLB Network was at Astros camp on Thursday, and here we see Sean Casey giving a fist bump to bench coach Eduardo Perez prior to their interview:

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