Missed this one in the first pass through the Jed Lowrie trade, but Houston included another player in the deal: right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez. Our own clack looked at Rodriguez earlier this offseason and saw plenty of positive signs in his performance. Here's what he had to say back then:
Rodriguez had some bad moments in high leverage situations last year, and, as a result, doesn't get much love from Astros' fans. As I've written previously, Rodriguez's pitching performance wasn't at bad as we think. As we try to evaluate the 2013 relief corps, it's not unreasonable to project F-Rod as a useful part of the Astros' bullpen.
Except he's not going to be part of that bullpen any more. The reason for his inclusion probably had to do more with 40-man rosters. Houston had to clear two spots for Carter and Brad Peacock, so they included two players on their own 40-man to make it work.
Still, it leaves some interesting questions for the Astros bullpen and makes me look directly at both Peacock and Alex White as potential relievers next season. While I'd love to see both in the starting rotation, a few of the losers from the spring training rotation competition figure to end up out in right field.
If we guess that Jordan Lyles, Lucas Harrell and Bud Norris are untouchable in that respect and we assume that it would take a LOT to bump Erik Bedard out of his place as the only lefty in the rotation, then that leaves one spot open for Phillip Humber, Peacock, John Ely, White and Dallas Keuchel. Maybe two spots, if you assume that Bedard and Keuchel and maybe Brett Oberholtzer will fight it out as a lefty.
Still, that means that either Humber, Peacock, Ely or White will end up in the bullpen. White projects pretty favorably out there and Peacock might need some innings in the 'pen this season at the majors to smooth out his kinks before he enters the rotation. That'd be a nice apprenticeship for him and would give the Astros three power arms at the back of the rotation, with Peacock, Fields and Veras.
What do you think? How will the bullpen shape up without F-Rod to kick around?