Struggling Bud Norris wins Opening Day job

Doug Pensinger

Bud Norris isn't a real good pitcher, and hasn't pitched real good this spring. He gets lots of strikeouts, but also gives up lots of walks and home runs. He's pitched almost identically in 2011 and 2012 -- with identical strikeout-to-walk ratios and home-run rates in both seasons -- so there's no reason to think he'll pitch any differently in 2013.

Entering camp, here were the Astros' other options for Opening Day: Phil Humber (1.29), Lucas Harrell (2.08 ERA), Alex White (6.97) and Jordan Lyles (17.74).

Yes, Jordan Lyles has a 17.74 ERA this spring. In 11⅔ innings, he's given up just one walk ... and 36 hits. If that's not some sort of record, I don't want to know what is. So Lyles is heading to the minors, with White joining Brad Peacock and Erik Bedard -- who's looked good in limited duty -- in a battle for the last two slots in the rotation. Realistically, then, Norris's only competition for the No. 1 slot was probably Harrell, who a) has out-pitched Norris this spring, and b) out-pitched Norris last season.

Really, the only thing Norris has going for him is Experience. Which is one of the three things that can get you an Opening Day start, the others being History and March Brilliance. And it seems that Experience often counts more than the other two combined.

Ultimately, the Astros are in trouble if Lyles doesn't find his fastball command, but ... well, actually the Astros are in trouble regardless of what Lyles' fastball. But there actually is some pitching talent on this roster. There might not be a legitimate ace here, but there are five or six guys who could start for a lot of clubs. And so I remain unconvinced that the Astros are going to lose 140 games this season.

More from Baseball Nation:

Why is MLB making Ryan Braun miserable?

What should the Red Sox do with phenom Jackie Bradley Jr.?

A WBC postmortem

Why do the Lords want to soak their employees?

Misters Baseball: A brief but colorful history

Latest News

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.


You must be a member of to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at You should read them.


You must be a member of to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.