Journeyman Nelson Figueroa will open the season as the Astros’ fifth starter after competing for the job with 20-year-old top prospect Jordan Lyles, who was sent to the minors today.
Lyles was impressive this spring and has a ton of long-term upside, but realistically the Astros are better off letting Figueroa keep the rotation spot warm for a while so he can get a little more seasoning in the minors and delay the start of his service time clock.
Lyles was fantastic at Double-A as a 19-year-old last season, posting a 3.12 ERA and 115/35 K/BB ratio in 127 innings, but struggled a bit following a late-season promotion to Triple-A and started a total of just six games there. There’s no need to rush a 20-year-old into the rotation for a non-contender and Figueroa is capable of holding his own with a 4.65 ERA in 60 career starts.
Brett Myers will start for the Astros on Opening Day, followed by Wandy Rodriguez, J.A. Happ, Bud Norris, and Figueroa.