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Opening Day Surprise Candidates: No. 1 Wandy Rodriguez

In this spring of knowledge, who could surprise us by going west in April?

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Every year in spring training, we get our hopes up for a truly surprising roster move at the end. At one point last decade, that move was Shane Reynolds getting cut out of the blue. Another time, it was Humberto Quintero andJason Bourgeois getting traded for actual value.

In this series, we'll look at a few players who's presence on the Opening Day roster would be a real surprise. Maybe they are not the most surprising players. Those would go to the guys who are young, just drafted or haven't played above Low A ball. It's also excluding older, non-roster invitees like Danny Worth or Neal Cotts.

No, these guys have shots at the roster, but for whatever reason, they're probably not going to make it. If they did, we'd be shocked for different reasons. Instead of inflicting this on you in one long list, we spread it out over different posts. First up was Tyler White. Then, another Tyler (Heineman) let us talk about catchers. A.J. Reed brought up service time. We close, then, with Wandy Rodriguez. Quite frankly, it's a bit of a downer. Whoever dreamt up this order is an idiot.

Wandy Rodriguez

You didn't think this list would all be minor leaguers, did you? Not every roster longshot is a fresh-faced kid from Iowa farm country, looking to make a name for himself. Sometimes, the gunslingers deserve one more chance at riding the lightning.

If Old Friend (and former OD starter) Wandy Rodriguez made the 25-man roster, I'd be surprised. But, for him to do that, a lot of things would have to happen. More specifically, a lot of pitchers would have to get hurt.

Wandy is maybe tenth in line to get a start with the Astros this year. He's behind the Big Four of Keuchel, McHugh, McCullers and Fister, behind the Feisty Duo of Mike Fiers and Scott Feldman, behind the Kids of Michael Feliz and Joe Musgrove and behind the Almost Theres of Asher Wojciechowski and Dan Straily.

That's ten guys right there. I think you could probably say Wandy gets the nod over Musgrove in most situations, but it's a toss-up.

Why, then, was he signed? Teams covet pitching depth like nothing else. They layer pitcher on top of pitcher because so many of those arms are fragile. Look at the Dodgers last year, who started a grand total of 16 pitchers during the regular season.

Houston may have plenty of depth in the high minors, but a guy like Wandy is valuable. If they suffered a rash of rotation injuries right away this spring, they could plug Wandy into the rotation instead of starting Musgrove's clock or relying on a guy like David Paulino to jump from High A to the majors. We can also agree that Wandy is probably better in a pinch than Jake Buchanan, right?

But, it also means that Wandy's presence on that Opening Day roster would be a sad surprise. For that to happen, five guys may have to go down with injuries. Just thinking about that hurts my arm. It also makes this a really sad way to end this series. To make up for that, here are some .gifs of puppies. Enjoy.

Puppies 1

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