After so few starting pitching options last off-season — remember Roberto Hernandez and Asher Wojciechowski starting the season (temporarily) in the rotation? — 2016 appears to be a season of almost too many options.
Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers Jr., Vincent Velasquez, Scott Feldman, Scott Kazmir, Mike Fiers, Brett Oberholtzer, Dan Straily, Asher W., Brad Peacock and Sam Deduno have all started games for the Astros this season and are on the 40-man roster or the disabled list.
There are various arguments for minor leaguers like Mark Appel, Mike Hauschild, Luis Cruz, Joseph Musgrove, Michael Feliz (yes he has been in the bullpen for the big club) and Chris Devenski who could have a shot at making the rotation.
There are nearly as many options as there are decisions ahead. Here are just a few of the challenging questions to be answered by Jeff Luhnow and his minions.
- Scott Kazmir. To offer or not to offer? He was one of the best pitchers the last couple years…until traded into a pennant race. Now if you did not know better you would think McCullers is the grizzled veteran and Kazmir is the green rookie.
- Rule 5 protection. Protect Cruz, Hauschild, Musgrove (their minor league pitcher of the year), Devenski, Hauschild or Feliz?
- Trade anyone? Is McHugh at his peak somehow winning 18 games with an ERA near 4? Obie? One of the young guys?
- Part company and DFA Peacock or Wojciechowski or Deduno?
- Bring Feldman back and then trade him at the deadline?
- Give #1 overall pick Appel a rotation spot, just because?
- Decide that the best way to have a “big” arm in the bullpen is to convert a starter like LMJ? Someone else?
The plus side is that they have choices. The negative side is that some of these guys will definitely not be in the organization next spring.