The Astros moved quickly to trade for Jason Jennings and signed Woody Williams in free agency to back up Roy Oswalt at the top of the Astros rotation.Â 29 year old righty Roy Oswalt is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball!Â He was 15-8 with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 33 games (32 starts) for the Astros in 2006.Â Oswalt has pinpoint control as he only walked 38 batters in 220.2 innings last season.Â Oswalt has won 55 games and he’s struck out 556 batters in his last three seasons which are outstanding numbers.Â Look for Oswalt to win 20+ games and win the Cy Young in the National League in 2007.
28 year old righty Jason Jennings has finally gotten out of the jail called Coors Field.Â Jennings stuff is on par with Oswalt’s and he will form and outstanding 1-2 punch in the Astros rotation.Â He was 9-13 last season with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in 32 starts for the Colorado Rockies last season.Â Look for Jennings to be much more aggressive in the strike zone and cut his walks and ERA down in 2007.Â Look for Jennings to win 15-18 games with a ERA in the low 3’s.
40 year old righty Woody Williams will be the #3 starter for the Astros this season.Â He was 12-5 with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP in 25 games (24 starts) for the San Diego Padres last season.Â Look for Williams to be very aggressive in the strike zone as he doesn’t walk many batters, but, he’s not playing at Petco Park anymore so his ERA will climb some.Â Look for Williams to win 10-13 games with an ERA between 4.15-4.50 in 2007.
28 year old lefty Wandy Rodriguez will get another chance to win the #4 spot in the Astros rotation this year.Â He was 9-10 with a 5.64 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP in 30 games (24 starts) for the Astros in 2006.Â Batters hit .290 against Rodriguez last season and allowed 17 homers in only 135.2 innings last year.Â Look for Rodriguez to win 9-10 games with a 5.00-5.50 ERA in 2007.
24 year old righty Fernando Nieve is the leader for the #5 spot in the Astros rotation.Â He was 3-3 with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in 40 games (11 starts) for the Astros in 2006.Â Nieve held batters to a .242 average against him last season but he will need to cut down on giving up the longball as he allowed 18 homers in 96.1 innings last season.Â He’s been a starter his whole career and he’ll do a good job if the Astros give him a shot at the rotation.
24 year old righty Matt Albers will also get a shot to win a job in the rotation this season.Â He was 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP in 4 games (2 starts) for the Astros in 2006.Â He was outstanding in the minors as he was 12-3 with a 2.49 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in 23 starts.Â Look for Albers to start in AAA if he doesn’t make the rotation out of Spring Training.Â But make no mistake, Albers will be starting at some point in the season for the Astros.
27 year old righty Ezequiel Astacio was 2-0 with a 11.12 ERA and a 2.29 WHIP in 6 games last season for the Astros.Â He was 8-4 with a 4.86 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP in 21 games (17 starts) in AAA last season.Â Look for him to be in AAA ball until he proves worthy of getting another shot with the Astros.
26 year old Miguel Ascenzio was 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP in 3 games (1 start) for the Colorado Rockies in 2006.Â He was 8-7 with a 5.03 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP in 38 games (16 starts) in AAA ball last season.Â Look for him to start the year in AAA and to get a call from the Astros at some time in 2007 if he deserves it.
Soon to be 29 year old righty Chris Sampson is a longshot to make the Astros rotation.Â He was 2-1 with a 2.12 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in 12 games (3 starts) for the Astros in 2006.Â Major leaguers only hit .205 against him and he only walked 5 batters in 34 innings for the Astros.Â Sampson was 12-3 with a 2.51 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP in AAA last season and he only walked 14 batters in 125.2 innings!Â Look for Sampson to either be in the rotation or the bullpen for the Astros when the team breaks camp in April.
29 year old righty Brandon Backe will miss most of the season as he’s recovering from major surgery.Â He started 8 games for the Astros last season and he was 3-2 with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 2006.Â This is a shame as Backe has been a decent starting pitcher for the Astros over the last couple of seasons.