Houston Astros Spring Training 2012: Brett Myers to Close; Who Starts Now?

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIFebruary 28, 2012

HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 28:  Pitcher Brett Myers #39 of the Houston Astros throws against the St. Louis Cardinals at Minute Maid Park on September 28, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Astros are no longer looking for a closer.

Once thought to be guaranteed a spot in the rotation, Brett Myers will be the closer this year, marking the second time in his career where he has held the position.

In 2007, Myers was the closer for the Phillies, where he saved 21 games in 37 appearances from the bullpen.

According to a story on mlb.com by Brian McTaggart, Myers was approached about switching roles shortly after arriving at camp. On Monday, after consulting his family, Myers agreed to take the job, saying he wouldn't take the job if he didn't think he could do it.

With Myers now in the bullpen, that leaves the Astros with two, maybe three, known starters. Guaranteed spots in the starting rotation are Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris. J.A. Happ is considered to have a secured spot as well, so that really leaves two rotation spots open.

And the Astros have no shortage of candidates for those final two spots.

Livan Hernandez, a veteran of 16 years, was signed to a minor-league contract in the offseason, as was Zach Duke.

Also competing for the starting spots are 2008 first-round pick Jordan Lyles, Lucas Harrell, Henry Sosa and Kyle Weiland, who the Astros acquired from the Red Sox in the offseason.

Now, with two spots open instead of one, things are more interesting between the six pitchers who will be competing for a spot.

I originally thought in a recent article that the rotation spot would go to one of the young pitchers instead of Hernandez or Duke, since the team is in rebuilding mode.

Now, I think the Astros go with Hernandez to be the No. 4 starter due to his extensive experience on the mound and the fact that he can lead young pitchers and show them how things are done in the major leagues.

The final spot will come down to Weiland and Lyles, in my opinion. And, I think the nod will go to Weiland considering the Astros traded for him (along with Jed Lowrie) in the offseason. Lyles is still 21 years old, and another year of seasoning in the minor leagues could prepare him to enter the starting rotation in 2013.

Any way you look at it, the Astros have thrown everyone for a loop with this move. But, they're expected to have the worst record in baseball again this year, so why not shake things up a little bit?