I know, this is really something better left to Wednesday's Stock Watch, but as the only real battle in camp, the fifth starter's race is fascinating to me. Let's check in on the candidates and see how they are coming along:
Nelson Figueroa -He's only pitched once this spring, but he looked good while doing it. Figueroa gave up two hits and one walk in two innings of scoreless work this spring. I assume he's slated to start another game soon, but Figueroa is the only one of the candidates who Brad Mills has a level of comfort with already.
Ryan Rowland-Smith -Hyphen hasn't made his case yet, giving up three runs on four hits in three innings of work this spring. He has pitched in two games, getting the start in one of them. He's also only struck out one while walking one. It's a long spring, but right now I'd have to think Hyphen is a little behind Figgy.
Jordan Lyles - If there is anyone who could possibly win the job outright, it's Lyles. The 20-year old is the Astros top prospect and both those things really scare me. I don't want him to win the job, but there is no question that Lyles has been one of the most effective pitchers in camp so far. He's going to have to keep that up and hope Figueroa and Hyphen both tank quickly and spectacularly, because if it's close between the kid and the experienced guys, you have to think the Astros will send Lyles to Triple-A.
It's also not a big deal, but Lyles doesn't have a strikeout yet this spring. He's only thrown five innings, but since there were already questions about his stuff, do you really want to bring a kid to the big leagues who can't strike out big league hitters?
Aneury Rodriguez -Slated to start a split squad game against Boston, Aneury has probably performed the worst of any of these fifth starter candidates. In both his outings, Rodriguez has gotten hit around and given up at least one run. He also has been prone to walks, which will not endear him to any manager. At this point, it'd take a string of pretty outstanding starts for Rodriguez to win this job, but anything's possible. I still think he'll hold onto a job in the bullpen if he doesn't get this spot.
Lance Pendleton -The only one of these guys who hasn't either gotten a start or is scheduled to get one, Pendleton looks to be the second guy ruled out of this race (after Abad). It's not that Pendleton has pitched poorly; he just hasn't done anything special enough to win the job. At this point, it looks like Pendleton will probably end up in Triple-A Oklahoma City's starting rotation as a little insurance in case of injuries. The Astros will have to send the Yankees some sort of compensation, but I'm sure that can be worked out.
Right now, as I said, the race looks like Figueroa, Lyles, Hyphen, Aneury and Pendleton. How do you have it set up? Should I move anyone around? What does Lyles need to do to beat out Figgy?