This is not an article about what the Astros will do, but what they should do. They should start the season with Rogelio Armenteros in the rotation.
A brief recap: there are four locks for the rotation: Verlander, Cole, Miley, McHugh (assuming the back thing is as minor as they think). As of now, it’s an almost foregone conclusion that Peacock takes the 5th starter spot. Here’s why it would be better for the 2019 success if Rogelio would take it, until Josh James is ready.
The first point is that Rogelio has little left to prove. He’s on the 40-man. He’s thrown almost 200 IP in AAA. He’s not young (nearly 25), and he basically is what he is: a pitcher with average stuff, exception a superb change, and good command. He’s a prototypical 5th starter.
The second point relates to value: the Astros and the league know exactly what they have in Peacock: a valuable swing man who can pitch high-leverage, multiple innings, and can also start. And he strikes out a lot of guys. But the league does not know what the Astros have in Rogelio, beyond a sterling spring training record. If Rogelio comes up and and has success in 3-4 starts, that bodes well and creates value.
The third point relates to the roster. Hinch has said he wants to carry only 7 relievers for the first few weeks. This move forestalls a decision on Kemp. But after the top 5 (Osuna, Pressly, Rondon, Devo, Harris), numbers 6 & 7 are unknown. And until Devo gets his groove back, none of those guys are multi-inning guys. Peacock adds stability. If they start Peacock, then it’s likely that a lefty (Framber, C Perez [who hasn’t pitched yet], and Guduan) makes the team, as well as.... Dean Deetz? Brendan McCurry?). Whoever that 7th reliever is, is not as good as Rogelio.
Fourth point: why not somebody else? Why not Framber, or Cionel Perez, or Brady Rodgers, all of whom are on the 40-man? I would have advocated for Rodgers if he looked good, but clearly he needs more work, which is why he was already reassigned. Framber’s control yips means that he needs seasoning. He’s made one start in AAA. Rogelio has made 31. Plus, Rogelio has had a much heavier workload than either Framber or Perez. He can throw 180 IP this season.
Fifth point: not much is at stake. Let Rogelio shine a bit. Josh James can start throwing again. He has plenty of time to build up a pitch count. If Rogelio is the 5th starter, and they don’t skip him, he would start 4/1 against the Rangers, 4/7 against the A’s, 4/13 against the Mariners, and 4/20 against the Rangers. Those are pretty left-handed lineups, where the changeup would neutralize the lefties. Maybe James will be ready by 4/20. Give Rogelio three starts at least.
Sixth and final point: I just love the name Rogelio. And I love Cubans (sandwiches, cigars, people, just not dictators). Nobody talks about Rogelio helping the team. Let him give Framber and/or C Perez some time to work on things, and let him show what he’s got.