Slightly Sunnier News

Troy Patton has made two starts after his promotion to the big club and while he hasn’t thrown any no-hitters, he hasn’t looked overmatched. Today he gave up 2 ER (3 total) in 6 innings at Wrigley and pitched well enough to keep us in the game.

I like the plan that Cecil Cooper has announced to use a modified 6 man rotation for the last 30 or so games of the season, pitching Roy O and Woody on their normal rest and rotating Albers, Wandy, Backe and Patton through around them. It gives Backe and Patton an opportunity to have some starts against major league pitching so we can get a better idea about where they are going into next season. The main problem the Astros will probably have is finding enough pitching spots for everyone. In addition to those six, Chris Sampson has returned from the DL and September call-ups Felipe Paulino and Juan Gutierrez will get a look. It’s like spring training in September! I heard Jim Deshaies joking during a broadcast the other day that the Astros might have to schedule some B games just so everyone can get some work in.

These previews might be helpful in deciding what the Astros pursue in the off-season. Pitching has been a major weakness after Oswalt this year, but with teams locking up potential free agents during the season, there isn’t really a big name starter available on the market that you can point to and say, this guy will be the answer to our problems. The Astros have a respectable stable of young, talented arms but I don’t think there’s anyone in particular that scouts are projecting to be top-of-the-rotation guys. So the new GM will have a tough question facing him; whether to go into spring training with the mix of potential starters we have, or try to work a trade without further weakening the team. Earlier I think I said the Astros should keep Brad Lidge, but he may be the only chip we have that could potentially bring back anything close to a quality starter, and that’s still a stretch.

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