The Astros starting rotation is set, and it doesn't scream for much optimism. Only one of the pitchers in the rotation had an ERA under 4 last year, Lucas Harrell at 3.76. Bedard had an ERA over 5, and Humber had an unsightly 6.44 ERA. Even Peacock had an ERA of over 6...in Triple A. In its organizational rankings, Fangraphs had ranked the Astros' pitching staff ranked dead last, and had this to say: "This might not be the worst rotation anyone has ever put together on purpose, but it’s in the conversation." Not cool, Fangraphs, not cool.
Thing is, though, you don't have to look very far back to get a much rosier view of this group. Here is this groups' ERA's in 2011.
Harrell 2.63 (Triple A)
Peacock 3.19 (Triple A)
If the Astros were going into the 2012 season with this group of pitchers, I think our projections would be quite a bit more optimistic. Maybe some regression would be expected from Humber and Norris, and I don't think you could have expected much better from Harrell than what he actually produced, but overall, that is a solid, if unspectacular, group 1-5.
Now, we can't ignore what happened last year. Norris took a step back. Humber and Bedard took three or four. Peacock was awful in his repeat of Triple A. But, if you are looking for reasons for optimism, look no further than how this group performed 2011. And there is nothing wrong with a little optimism on March 28, even for Astros fans.