Houston had three prominent non-roster invitees this spring - first baseman Dan Johnson, right-handed pitcher Roberto Hernandez, and left-handed pitcher Joe Thatcher. The Astros have already traded Johnson to the Reds after it was clear he wasn't making the major league roster. Hernandez and Thatcher's statuses weren't as clear, but they both presented solid cases for jobs. Monday, multiple reports indicated that both Hernandez and Thatcher have made the club.
Source: #Astros add LHR Joe Thatcher to Opening Day roster. Had signed minor-league deal.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 31, 2015
Astros manager A.J. Hinch he told Thatcher and Roberto Hernandez they had made the club. Hernandez will start 3rd, 4th or 5th game.— Brian McTaggart ⚾️ (@brianmctaggart) March 31, 2015
Thatcher is heading into his ninth season in the major leagues, including a majority with A.J. Hinch's most recent team - the Padres. He will fill the role as the second lefty in the Astros pen after allowing just one run through 7.1 innings this spring.
Hernandez (aka Fausto Carmona) is heading into his tenth season in the majors, he had a solid spring with a 3.71 ERA in 17 innings pitched. Hernandez did enough to keep a job over Asher Wojciechowski. Wojciechowski had steller spring (1.08 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 16.2 IP), but Wojo still has minor league control. Wojo may still get a spot if Brett Oberholtzer or Scott Feldman can't start the season. Both Obe' and Feldman struggled in multiple outings in Spring Training, and Obeholtzer is working his way back from a lat strain.
The question then becomes who will be removed from the 40-man roster to add Hernandez and Thatcher. Alex White seems to be a leading candidate, who is still on the recovery track from Tommy John surgery. Is it Jake Buchanan or Kevin Chapman, who haven't been able to distinguished themselves this spring. Has Will Harris done enough?
There is another option, a trade. Could the Astros flip some of their depth? Robbie Grossman, Alex Presley, Marwin Gonzalez, or Jonathan Villar are fighting for two spots.
The Astros have until noon Tuesday to make a decision on the 40-man.