HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – Instead of starting 35 games in 2012, the Astros are hoping Brett Myers can save 35 games. In an unexpected move this morning, Astros skipper Brad Mills named Myers his closer for the upcoming season.
Myers last closed with Philadelphia in 2007, notching 21 saves in helping the Phillies to the playoffs. He returned to the rotation the following season and has gone 21-22 in two seasons since joining the Astros.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow approached Brad Mills with the idea earlier this spring. Mills spent some time thinking about it before deciding to move last year’s Opening Day starter to the back of his bullpen.
The Astros closer job has been open ever since the team traded Mark Melancon, last year’s closer, to the Red Sox in the offseason. Jed Lowrie, who was acquired in return for Melancon, will be the Astros starting shortstop heading into this season.
Livan Hernandez seems most likely to benefit from Myers move to the bullpen. Hernandez, who was signed to a minor league contract in January, will help eat up innings in the rotation while the Astros younger pitching prospects develop in the minor leagues.
As for the rest of the rotation, Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris are assured starting jobs. J.A. Happ and Jordan Lyles are the odds-on favorites to win the final two spots. The club will look at other candidates including Henry Sosa, Kyle Weiland, Zach Duke and Lucas Harrell over the next month.
The Astros open their Grapefruit League schedule Saturday in Kissimmee against the Washington Nationals. Hernandez will start the spring opener.