First Bud Norris was traded, Then, Lucas Harrell was banished to the bullpen. Now, the team’s elder statesman (Erik Bedard) will spend the rest of the season pitching in relief. The pitchers who have started half the team’s games (65) in 2013, are no longer part of the rotation.
What does that leave? Exactly what many future-looking fans have been begging for the past few years. The kids.
Now, if the Astros continue as expected with their six-man rotation through the end of the season, David Martinez appears set to become the (ahem) old man in the rotation at 26 at some point this week.
As surprised as Bedard was — and many of us — at Bo Porter‘s decision to move the 34-year-old lefty to the bullpen, it may be a smart move. What has been the main challenge for this team? Which area of the roster has undergone more change this year? Obviously, it’s the bullpen.
Indeed, if Bedard can provide 2-3 innings 2-3 times a week, it could help stop some of the bleeding from a wound that has only become more extensive and bigger in recent weeks. And, if it adds a starter to the rotation who can go deeper into games, it also aids in the cause.
Either way, Jeff Luhnow and Porter are not looking to September. They are setting themselves up for February and spring training, 2014 and beyond. With the aforementioned six potential starters joined by a handful of possibly major-league ready pitchers from the upper echelon of the system, or even a mid-level free agent signing, the Astros can focus most of their off-season budget — and concerns — on revamping, rebuilding and reconstructing the bullpen.
If even half of this six-man rotation sticks, at least one of the other prospects makes the leap in 2014 (Wojciechowski, Buchanan et al) and the Astros tighten up the bullpen, 2014 could… Well, I’ll let you finish that sentence.
To be certain, you or anyone can laugh or mock a third consecutive 100-loss season, but the Astros are setting up a scary good rotation.
Meanwhile, here are some numbers to start your week.