According to Astros.com and a few links from Astros Daily (both of which have good message boards, by the way), Brandon Backe will miss a minimum of six weeks with a right elbow sprain, at which point he may or may not return. Zeke Astacio was called up from AAA to take his roster spot.
Shit. It's not like Backe is a great starter - in his first full season as a starter last year, he had a 4.76 ERA and an uninspiring 67 / 97 walk-to-strikeout ratio, but at least he was a guy we could pencil in every 5th day, he just turned 28 so he's still improving, and he was off to a nice start this year (2.25 ERA in 8 innings.) So what does this mean? Well, it makes this even more of a rebuilding year. I'm not saying we couldn't sign Clemens on May 1 and go on another crazy run to make the playoffs, but at least until then 3/5 of our rotation is Wandy Rodriguez, Taylor Bucholz,and Fernando Nieve, with Astacio as long relief. I'm excited to see how all those guys do, but here's a hint: they probably will not all do well. They're young, and most young pitchers have a rocky start when they first make it up to the Show. Still, it will be neat to have a sneak peek at what our rotation could look like a year or two down the road. The four guys I mentioned plus Jason Hirsh should all be contending for rotation spots in '07. Here's their chance to show off.
We lost to the D-Backs 5-1 last night. Brandon Webb got groundball after groundball, and Andy Pettitte struggled a little bit, allowing 7 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs (2 earned, 1 scored off a Biggio error). I thought he looked ok, getting a lot of groundballs like Webb, but more of Pettitte's found their way into the outfield for base hits. Jason Lane had a few nice at-bats, getting 2 hits, but other than that the offense was pretty quiet except for an Adam Everett RBI double.
Today: Wandy vs. Claudio Vargas.