Aug 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell (64) pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the sixth inning at O.Co Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Houston Astros 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros: Lucas Harrell And Dallas Keuchel Win Final Rotation Spots

Since both Astros beat writers seem to be on top of their game, I’ll give them both the credit. Both Evan Drellich (Houston Chronicle) and Brian McTaggart (MLB.com) tweeted that Lucas Harrell and Dallas Keuchel have won the final two rotation spots for the 2014 season.

There you have it!

It will be Scott Feldman going Opening Day with Jarred Cosart and Brett Oberholtzer to follow against the New York Yankees. Harrell and Keuchel will open up against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Brad Peacock and Jerome Williams will be sent to the bullpen.

Harrell finished the spring with a 7.80 ERA in 15 innings which apparently is good enough to make the Astros starting rotation. Yes, most of it happened in one bad day, but it won’t stop the national media from making jokes.

Here’s what Bo Porter had to say about Harrell:

Ummmm…total BS. It really is. They won’t say it but I can. Harrell certainly didn’t earn a spot last year and his spring numbers weren’t anything special. Heck, put Nolan Ryan out there and he could probably have done better.

The only reason Harrell is out there if simply for trade value. The 28-year old had a 3.76 ERA in 193.2 innings pitched in 2012, but the Astros decided to hold onto him in hopes he can prove himself to be a quality pitcher. It backfired. And it backfired badly. Harrell finished with a 5.86 ERA in 153.2 innings pitched in 2013 and caused problems in the clubhouse including his notorious remarks about the Astros shifts.

Astros GM Jeff Luhnow hopes that Harrell can pitch relatively well early in the season in hopes of finding a trade partner. There is a ZERO percent chance Harrell is in the starting lineup once the trade deadline passes. Either they’ll trade him because he proved to be good enough for another team to trade for him, or they’ll send him home packing because he isn’t even worth leaving in the pen.

Jul 5, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell (64) walks back to the mound after giving a two run home run to Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre (background) during the fourth inning of a baseball game at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros should have moved on from Harrell last season. They didn’t. Now we’re stuck with seeing if we can get some sort of fringe prospect or organizational depth for Harrell at the deadline instead of seeing if Peacock can become a reliable back-end of the rotation starter. It doesn’t make sense to me. Give Peacock the valuable starts which he earned at the end of last season and see what he can do. Oberholtzer seemed to earn his spot because of his success last season. How can Peacock not have earned his? At the end of the day, I’d rather see a 9.00 ERA from Peacock than from Harrell.

And even if you’re not a fan of Peacock, there are other guys that I’d rather see out there than Harrell. How about that Michael Foltynewicz guy. You know, the prospect that throws 100+MPH. You’d be lying if you said Harrell was better than him. But, I do understand the money and contractual side of the game. Let’s wait a few weeks or months before calling up Foltynewicz. That extra year is definitely more important than a few early starts. Fine Jeff, you win that one.

On the other hand, Keuchel finished with a 5.82 ERA this spring which “earned” him the 5th rotation spot. Honestly, I’m a bit tired of seeing Keuchel in the backend of the rotation but those days will come to an end soon. Peacock struggled in his five innings of work (10.80 ERA) this spring and he’ll work out of the pen in the meantime. He should have the first crack at the rotation if a trade or injury were to occur. Williams was always better off being a part of the bullpen and should be one of the better Astros relievers this season.

Jeff, if you’re reading this, hit me up with a phone call. Calm me down.

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Tags: Dallas Keuchel Houston Astros Lucas Harrell

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