March 7, 2012; Clearwater FL, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Bud Norris (20) pitches in the first inning of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Going back to the 2005 World Series team the Astros have had at least one pitcher reach the 200 innings pitched mark every season. Below is a list of Astros starters who made the "200 club" since that 2005 season:
The last time an Astros pitcher other than Myers reached that mark was Wandy in 2009, however Myers presumed predecessor Livan Hernandez reached the 200 innings mark as recently as 2010, and also threw 175 innings in 29 games started for the Nationals last year.
Looking at the six different projection systems listed on Fangraphs the general consensus seems to be that of the four expected Astros starters none of them will pitch 200 innings in the 2012 season. The only projection system that had any Astros pitcher throw 200 innings was Rotochamps, who had both Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris reaching 200 innings. The average of all six projections for each pitcher is listed below:
The fifth spot in the rotation is still undetermined, but it is highly unlikely that one of Kyle Weiland, Lucas Harrell, Jordan Lyles, Aneury Rodriguez, or Henry Sosa would reach 200 innings if they won the job. The Astros have another pitcher in camp in Zack Duke who has broke the 200 innings pitched plateau twice in his career, but at this point it would be extremely unlikely for him to come anywhere close to that mark this season.
Looking at this from a different angle, it is possible that the Astros could potentially have three pitchers this season break the 200 inning barrier with a fourth consuming 150 plus. Both Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris were close enough to that mark last season that they could surpass 200 innings if they stay healthy. The projections for Livan Hernandez seem to assume that he will average about 25 starts next season, but given his durability and the fact that he seems to be a fixture in the rotation now that Myers is in the pen, it is not outside the realm of possibilities for him to put up those kinds of innings this season. J.A. Happ is the biggest wild card here as he has been anything but dependable with his time in the majors, and therefore penciling him in for a solid 150+ innings is tough to do.
Looking back at the number of innings pitched from the starting unit as a whole since 2005, Astros rotations averaged approximately 955 innings pitched. Below is the breakdown by year:
If we play around with the average projections, we would have a total of about 110 starts and 670 innings accumulated between the four expected starters. That would leave a total of about 52 starts and 285 innings to make up between the fifth starter and other starters who fill in along the way. Astros starters would need to average about 5 ½ innings pitched in those 52 starts to reach their average innings pitched mark of 955.
The Astros have the out of option pitchers in Henry Sosa and Lucas Harrell, who if in the bullpen or pass through waivers could provide decent depth for the rotation. They would supplement the pitchers with options like Jordan Lyles, Kyle Weiland, and Aneury Rodriguez who are all considered close to if not major league ready. Then there are also the minor league free agent signees like Zack Duke and Xavier Cedeno who could also be considered starting options if necessary. In short the Astros have enough depth, with a decent amount of that depth under team control that they should be capable of averaging 5 ½ innings for the remaining starts left over from the core four (if you will.) I will put a disclaimer here and say that all of the above estimates are extremely rough, and were a just-for-fun type of exercise.
Jacob Peterson at Beyondtheboxscore.com recently posted an article on how important having the innings-eater types are to overall team success. While the 2012 Astros rotation is projected to not have anyone break the 200 inning plateau, the staff as a whole should be able to accumulate enough innings to keep the bullpens workload respectable given its depth. To end things on a positive note it is possible that Wandy and Bud could pass that mark and form a solid backbone for the rotation this season if healthy.