With about a little over a week to go until Opening Day, the Astros roster is nearly set. One of the few battles left is who will be the fifth starter. On Thursday, the competition officially narrowed to two candidates, according to Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
Hinch said it's down to Wojo and Hernandez for— Brian McTaggart ⚾️ (@brianmctaggart) March 26, 2015
. 5th starter would be in long relief. Deduno
Hinch acknowledges what was pretty clear: Wojo, Hernandez two remaining SP candidates— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 26, 2015
Sam Deduno will be your long man in the bullpen. A couple other notes came out of meetings this morning. Reliever Josh Fields is still hurting and may not be ready for Opening Day, while Robbie Grossman is slightly ahead of Jonathan Villar after both suffered injuries in Wednesday's spring game.
Both Wojo and Fauxsto present interesting cases for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Either way, this is exactly what a real spring training roster battle should look like. In recent years, the Astros have had such a dearth of qualified major leaguers on the roster that prospects got the fast track to winning spots, whether they earned it or not.
Here, we've got a situation where Hernandez would have the spot if Wojo hadn't pitched so well this spring.
Of course, there's another answer why the Astros
Also, Houston will have to officially add Hernandez to the 40-man roster if he wins a spot, which means making a roster move or two. That can be put off for another week, so there's no real incentive for Houston to make a decision ahead of time.
As Drellich pointed out this morning, Hernandez is due a $100,000 bonus if he's on the roster five days before Opening Day. That's the real deadline to decide things, not before. We may not see more clarity on things before that.
As for Fields, his injury should be good news for Will Harris, who is on the 40-man roster and still in camp. Harris has pitched well since Houston claimed him on waivers from Arizona over the winter. Unlike another nice relief option like James Hoyt, he wouldn't take a 40-man roster move to break camp with the big league team. Until Fields' health is sorted out, I'd expect that Harris sticks with the team just in case.