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Astros 40 in 40: Dan Straily

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Waiting in the wings if the Astros need rotation help in 2016.

Dan Straily had a solid debut season with the Astros in 2015. Acquired from the Cubs before the season along with Luis Valbuena for Dexter Fowler, Dan Straily made three starts for the Astros but spent most of his time with the Fresno Grizzlies in Triple A. He enters 2016 as one of the depth options for starting pitching for the major league club.

Straily started out in the Oakland Athletics system, drafted in the 24th round of the draft in 2009. He put together an outstanding season in 2012, striking out 190 batters across two minor league levels and then making his major league debut with Oakland.

He followed that up with a very solid 2013 season when he pitched primarily in Oakland, going 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to replicate that success, and has bounced between Triple A and the majors the last two seasons with the A’s, Cubs and Astros.

Straily pitched reasonably well for Fresno in 2015, starting 22 games and tallying over a strikeout per inning for the PCL champions. His success was mixed in his spot starts with the Astros. He had one very solid outing against the Indians where he only allowed two runs in six innings, but didn’t get out of the fifth inning in his other two starts.

His average fastball velocity dipped from a high of 91.3 in 2012 to 89.3 last season. Perhaps because of this, he started throwing his fastball less last year. Instead of relying primarily on the fastball, he used his slider and changeup much more frequently. Those two pitches are his primary weapons for putting away hitters.

Thirteen different pitchers started games for the Astros last season (remember Samuel Deduno?), which underlines how crucial starting pitching depth can be. The back end of the Houston rotation remains a weak spot. Straily likely returns to Fresno to start the season, but he’s a major part of the Astros depth at starting pitcher this year and for years to come.