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.
Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.
The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.
The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.