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OKC RedHawks: Astros ditch 'piggyback starter' experiment at Triple-A

Injuries, player movement contribute to RedHawks going back to traditional five-man rotation.
BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Published: April 30, 2013
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photo - MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: Oklahoma City's Brett Oberholtzer pitches during the Oklahoma City RedHawks home opener against the Memphis Redbirds at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 12, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: Oklahoma City's Brett Oberholtzer pitches during the Oklahoma City RedHawks home opener against the Memphis Redbirds at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 12, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

At the start of the season the Astros required all of their minor league teams to use an eight-man rotation. It's not a new concept but had never been tried before in Triple-A.

Now the RedHawks are back in their normal routine. Getting back to traditional roles should benefit pitchers like Jordan Lyles and Jarred Cosart, projected to be part of Houston's future rotation.

Lyles, 22, already has made 40 major league starts the past two seasons. He threw five shutout innings in his last OKC start. He has a 5.32 ERA but most of the damage was limited to two appearances. Lyles has a 2.45 ERA in his other four appearances.

“Up there (in the majors) it's going to be a five-man,” Lyles said. “Anywhere you go it's going to be a five-man. That's what you've done your whole career. To get back into that routine is a pretty good deal.”

Cosart, 22, is viewed as one of the Astros' top pitching prospects. He might spend much of the season in Oklahoma City but is showing why the Astros' No. 4 overall prospect armed with a 96 mph fastball is on the fast track to the majors.

After Tuesday night's 4-2 win over Nashville at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Cosart is 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 271/3 innings.

Lyles, Cosart and the other three members of the RedHawks rotation (Keuchel, Oberholtzer and Ross Seaton) no longer have to be concerned with coming out of the bullpen every other appearance.

“It just worked its way back to the way it normally is,” said catcher Jason Jaramillo. “The bullpen hasn't really gotten away from what they traditionally do so this could be beneficial for our entire staff.”


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