I love this. Someone asked a question! Got one of your own? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. So let's take it one at a time:
I am interested in you setting an over/under number on how many different pitchers get starts this year.
Last year, 10 pitchers started a game for the Astros, and four of those players are not on the roster anymore. (Can you name those four? Answer below.) In addition to the five pitchers in the rotation now, you can bet that Hampton is not going to make 30+ starts. I'll be the first to slide butt-first nekkid into an ice bank if he does.
Injuries are a certainty. Guys like Sampson, Hensley, Wright are in the bullpen and apparently will be able to make spot starts. And don't discount the very real possibility that the season will effectively be over by mid-August (making this the AAA-stros), meaning we may see a Bud Norris, Brad James up in the rotation towards the end of the season.
The ML team using the fewest pitchers to start a game is the Angels and the Twins, with seven. The most? Texas, with 14. The Dia'm'ndba'ck', Royals, Brewers, Phillies, Giants and Rays used less than 10.
I'm going to put the over/under at 11.5 Astros getting starts.
I actually like the bullpen quite a bit. We could be okay there. But they will get plenty of opportunities to screw up with this starting rotation.
Also, do you imagine any scenario in which Danny Graves makes this team?
Here's my definite answer: Maybe. Probably not in the rotation. His only season starting was in 2003 and he was 4-15 with a 5.33 ERA. He's been much more solid out of the bullpen and, as you said, the bullpen might be the most solid part of the '09 Astros. But Easy Eddie has brought in a number of experienced guys to compete for spots besides Graves, like Russ Ortiz, Jose Capellan, Chad Paronto, and don't forget de la Vara was a Rule 5 pick - so he has to stay on the roster or the Astros lose $50,000. And nobody messes with Drayton's 50 Gs.
If Graves comes out and is lights out, while some of the other guys struggle, he could make the team. The Astros will probably carry seven or eight in the bullpen, and you figure that Brocail, Geary, Byrdak, Wright, Valverde, Sampson and Hawkins are locks. That leaves room for one more. And if Moehler or Backe doesn't have a good spring, they could get pushed into the 'pen. It's a long-shot, but it could happen.
Excellent question! Keep 'em coming. Disagree or agree? Let me know.