Like many things with the Astros, minor league pitching rotation is an experiment. The Astros in seasons past have employed a "tandem" system that assigned pairs of pitchers to alternate starting and relieving on days the pair pitches. The Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich reports there will be one major modification in this year's edition, the pitchers in Triple A will use a six-man rotation rather than the tandem system.
The goal of the tandem system is to protect young pitchers arms, prepare pitchers for both starting and relieving roles, and double the number of pitchers the Astros see in starting roles. The system has seen some pushback from the Astros pitching prospects, saying it effects their performance and rest time between starts.
Drellich talked with Astros general manager about the changes:
"AAA will be different. AAA will go in the six-man rotation, we're not doing a tandem starters at the AAA level. We're doing it at the other levels. We feel like six is what we need. Part of it was always driven by how many guys we have as starters. And right now six is a good number for us at AAA."
Astros recent acquisition Dan Straily will get the first start in the six-man rotation on Thursday, April 9. The Fresno Grizzles face the Las Vegas 51s on Opening Day.