On Monday, the Astros will kick off the 2015 season. Here's a look at what their Opening Day pitching rotation will be and who will be in it.
1) Dallas Keuchel, left-hander
One of Houston's breakout
He becomes the sixth straight different Astros starting pitcher on Opening Day, following Roy Oswalt, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris and Scott Feldman. He joins Wandy, Dave Roberts, Mike Cuellar and Bobby Shantz as left-handers to start on Opening Day for Houston and is the 24th pitcher for the franchise overall to start Opening Day.
2) Scott Feldman, right-hander
The Astros signed the venerable pitcher two winters ago. He'll earn $10 million in the second year of a three-year pact and is set to earn $8 million next year.
Feldman's early injury last season allowed Collin McHugh to establish himself in the majors, but Feldman
3) Collin McHugh, right-hander
While Astros fans knew about Keuchel before his sterling 2014 campaign, McHugh was more of a mystery. Picked up from
That work, and embracing effective velocity by ditching his two-seam fastball, led to a breakout performance from the 27-year-old. McHugh posted a 2.73 ERA with a 11-9 record in 154 innings last season. He struck out 157 batters with 41 walks. That was good enough to get him Rookie of the Year consideration and lock up a spot in the 2015 rotation.
4) Asher Wojciechowski, right-hander
The third member of the Astros side of that giant trade with Toronto to make it to the majors, Asher Wojciechowski improbably won a spot in the rotation this spring.
Last year, he was a dark horse candidate for a rotation spot, but a
But, this spring, he was very impressive. With
The right-hander is a former supplemental first round pick from The Citadel. In 2013, he posted a 3.56 ERA in 134 innings with 104 strikeouts and 44 walks. Last year, his ratios got out of whack and that ERA crept up a full run.
Which Wojo will we see in his major league debut? That's going to be an exciting question to answer.
5) Roberto Hernandez, right-hander
A surprise signing, the Astros added the journeyman right-hander on a minor-league deal just before the spring began. By making the team, Hernandez will earn just south of $3 million this season.
Formerly known as Fausto Carmona, Hernandez has pitched in nine big league seasons for four different teams. Last season, Hernandez posted a 3.87 ERA in Philadelphia, starting 20 games and throwing 121 innings while striking out 75 and walking 55. He was then traded to the Dodgers for Victor Arano and Jesmuel Valentin, but struggled in 20 innings with L.A.
Houston is hoping his projected 4.68 ERA will be lower than that and that Hernandez can provide solid innings before the younger players (like Asher Wojciechowski or Mark Appel) are ready to be in the big leagues.
Brett Oberholtzer, left-hander
Last season, Dallas Keuchel struggled to make the rotation out of spring training, despite signs that he was due to break out in a big way.
This year, Brett Oberholtzer struggled to make the rotation, despite signs that he's due to break out.
Does that mean Obiehockey could become this year's Dallas Keuchel?
Yes, yes it does.
Oberholtzer went 5-13 last season with a 4.39 ERA in 143 innings, but continued to show some very fine skills as a pitcher. Only two pitchers in Astros history have thrown at least 100 innings as a starter and had a lower walk rate than Oberholtzer has posted through his first two big league seasons.