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The Houston Astros pitching staff will need to have a great year if the team hopes to have any chance of being competitive in 2011. Brett Myers had a great 2010 and became the ace of this staff after Roy Oswalt was traded away. Myers has been pitching pretty well so far this spring training, with an ERA of 3.67 through five innings of work.
Wandy Rodriguez started 2010 very slowly but was able to figure it out and pitched well down the stretch, and the start of 2011 is looking similar to last year. He has given up eight runs through 4.2 innings of work and has not looked like the pitcher fans have come to expect.
J.A. Happ and Bud Norris are two young pitchers who will be expected to play key roles in the rotation this year. Happ came over from the Phillies in the Oswalt trade and pitched pretty well in his first half of season with the Astros. He has only had one outing so far in spring training but went two innings and only gave up one hit.
Bud Norris will be entering his second season as a starter in the Astros rotation and had an up-and-down season. He had trouble stringing quality starts together, which he will need to work on this season. Like Happ, he has had limited work to this point and has only pitched two innings and gave up one run.
The last spot in the rotation is up for grabs between Nelson Figueroa, free-agent signee Ryan Rowland-Smith and top prospect Jordan Lyles. Even though Lyles has pitched very well so far, not allowing a run through five innings of work, I think Figueroa will win the final spot, allowing Lyles to get some work at the Triple-A level.
Figueroa pitched very well at the end of the last season, having an ERA below 3.25 through his final 10 starts. Figueroa has only pitched two innings so far this spring but didn't give up a run.