KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — The Houston Astros know one thing about their pitching staff this year: It will be different from last season's crew.
That has to be reassuring, because Houston's 4.79 ERA was the worst in the major leagues as the Astros lost 111 games.
As they prepared for the first organized workout for pitchers and catchers Sunday, general manner Jeff Luhnow said "the rotation is definitely up for grabs," and manager Bo Porter said there may be as many 11 pitchers competing for the four starting spots behind Scott Feldman.
The 31-year-old Feldman, who went 12-12 with the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles last season, signed a three-year, $30 million contract on Dec. 6.
"I think it's safe to assume Feldman's in the rotation," Luhnow said Saturday. "Beyond that, clearly we have some players that did well last year — (Brett) Oberholtzer and (Jarred) Cosart and (Brad) Peacock. (Jerome) Williams is going to be in the mix, Lucas Harrell is going to be in the mix. Wojo (Asher Wojciechowski) had a great year at Triple-A, Rudy Owens. Other guys are going to be looked at, but I'd say there's nothing certain except Feldman's in the rotation."
Peacock and Harrell are the only candidates who started last season in Houston's rotation,
and Harrell was only a spot starter after July 5. Bud Norris, Erik Bedard, Jordan Lyles and Philip Humber, who started a combined 79 games, are gone.
Feldman, a 17-game winner with the Texas Rangers in 2009, comes in as something of a reluctant ace.