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Astros 40 in 40: Asher Wojciechowski

From in the Opening Day rotation to minor league pitching depth.

Asher Wojciechowski is between a rock and a hard place. Before 2015, a pitcher like Wojciechowski would have been given a chance in the Astros rotation or bullpen to find out his value and get a chance to find a spot on the major league team.

But the Astros aren't losing 100 games left and right anymore to give prospects a chance to show their wares. The team has five pitchers that could be easily slotted into the starting rotation in Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers, Scott Feldman, and Mike Fiers. Wojciechowski could be the first man up if there was an injury, but the team then added veteran depth with Doug Fister. Wojciechowski slides one step further back with group that includes Dan Straily and Brad Peacock.

Wojciechowski will be in a holding pattern for 2015, stuck between not having a spot on the major league roster and looking over his shoulder as prospects come knocking at the door. He is ahead of Jake Buchanan and Rudy Owens, both were taken off the 40-man roster last season but behind Dan Straily -- who is out of options in 2016. Injures will happened and pitchers will be needed, the Astros used 10-plus starters in 2015 -- giving Wojo a chance.

Wojo is an all round solid pitcher that mixes his low 90s fastball and slider well.

Wojciechowski started the 2015 season as member of the Astros Opening Day rotation after posting a 1.29 ERA in 21 Spring Training innings. The good times didn't last as he made three starts in April, collecting a 7.31 ERA with 16 strikeouts, seven walks, 1.88 WHIP, and 13 earned runs in 16 innings.

The Astros optioned Wojciechowski back to Triple A Fresno on April 27. He posted a 8-4 record with a 4.92 ERA, 87 strikeouts, 41 walks, 1.47 WHIP in 115 1/3 innings (20 starts). He returned the Astros for one August appearance.

Wojo's 2015 strikeout rate (6.79) was steady to his last three seasons, his walk rate was at a career high (3.20) in Triple A Fresno. He'll have to keep that in check to find time at the next level.

The fact that Wojo is in this situation is a testament to the Astros' system-wide depth, but things will have gone sideways if we see him in a major league uniform.