The starting rotation was suppose to be the strength of the 2011 Astros. Sadly the rest of the team didn't set the bar very high, and the rotation still wasn't a strength. The 2010 rotation, led by Roy Oswalt for little more than half a season, was pretty good. The rotation racked up 14.9 WAR ranking 9th in the Majors. Their 3.90 ERA put them in 9th place; their 3.80 FIP put them in third; and their xFIP of 3.88 had them 7th in the league. A year later minus Oswalt plus Happ and Brett Myers's regression saw our dreams crumble. They were 24th in ERA (4.52), 23rd in FIP (4.34), 20th in xFIP (4.05), and 28th in WAR (5.7). The Angles basically got twice that production from just two pitchers, and then Roy Halladay himself earned 8.2 WAR. Yeah, we sucked.
But we don't have to suck as bad next season. I have hope that even with the guys we have, we will see some improvement. I think it is not at all far fetched for Wandy to get his K/9 up a little, and lower his BB/9 as well. And while I'm at it I think he will lower his home runs per fly ball down between 9 and 10 and get his FIP back to about 3.50. That's not too much to hope for, is it?
Then we have Bud Norris. Bud is younger and throws harder, so I am going to ask for a little more natural improvement from him. Bud took a step forward in 2011, and now he will take another one and pitch closer to 200 innings. Maybe he can even lower his BB/9 to 3 and cut his HR/FB down to 10. He's not going to be a true ace mind you, but he can at least make his starts watchable for the fans...that's how far my hopes have fallen for our Astros, they don't have to win, they just have to keep the game entertaining.
Brett Myers, he makes me groan every time simply because I really wanted to trade him in 2010. And now, having read the article about the anatomy of a trade, I'm not sure Wade knows that he can make counter offers, which might explain why no one offered anything of value for Myers back in 2010. Brett stunk the first half of the season posting FIPs of 5.38, 5.43, 4.73 and then turned it around the second half posting FIPs of 3.70, 3.92, and 2.36. Too be honest, I'm having a hard time seeing him improve much. But I hope he will give us over 200 innings with about a 4 ERA, and be our number three. Maybe we can squeeze 3 WAR out of him? 2.5?
And now for the fourth and fifth spots...okay, just the fourth spot. There are just too many possibilities for both rotation spots, but I will go with Jordan Lyles even though I won't be too upset if he's in AAA. I don't know what is fair to hope for from him. His FIP wasn't as bad as his ERA and his HR/9 was a lot higher than his minor league numbers, so I hope he can get that down. How many innings can he pitch next year? 140? I hope, and I think he can, keep his ERA around 4-4.20 next season for how many innings he can safely pitch.
As for the rest of the starters and the fifth rotation spot, I have no idea what to hope for. A total of 1 WAR? A non-negative WAR? I would be fine with signing a low cost free agent to add a veteran to the competition as well. The bullpen is also not something that I really want to think about. Can Lyon be serviceable? Not as a closer but just a solid middle innings reliever? Can we sign someone like Brad Lidge? I don't want an expensive closer. I just want a bullpen that will keep my palm from my face. If by some miracle the Astros are close to the playoffs next year...stop laughing...we can pick up a reliever at the deadline.
Hey, the St. Luis Berkmans won the World Series!