Bud Norris will start on Opening Day for the Astros, who chose him over Lucas Harrell for the Game 1 assignment.
Harrell was better last season, with a 3.76 ERA in 194 innings compared to a 4.65 ERA in 168 innings for Norris, but Norris has been with the Astros for four seasons and that makes him the longest-tenured member of the rotation.
Along with announcing Norris as the Opening Day starter the Astros also announced that Jordan Lyles will begin the season at Triple-A, which was the speculation two weeks ago because he was getting knocked around in spring training.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.
Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”
Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.
Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.