Important week coming for fifth-starter competition

Hernandez, Straily, Deduno and Wojciechowski expected to pitch over next few days

Important week coming for fifth-starter competition

TAMPA, Fla. -- The next time through the pitching rotation will be important for the four Astros pitchers who remain in contention for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, three of whom are coming off subpar outings.

Veteran Roberto Hernandez, who gave up three earned runs and four hits in three innings Tuesday, will start Sunday's game against the Pirates in Kissimmee. Dan Straily, who walked four and allowed three runs in two innings Tuesday, will also pitch against Pittsburgh.

Sam Deduno, who was rocked for four hits, four walks and four runs in two innings on Friday, will pitch again Wednesday against the Phillies in Clearwater. Rookie Asher Wojciechowski will also work in that game. He's pitched well this spring, having allowed one earned run and eight hits in 12 innings.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch cautioned not to make too much of one bad outing.

"One rough start in Spring Training will skew a lot of the numbers, and a lot of the perception if you're not watching them day to day," he said. "Hernandez, his next couple of outings are going to be very key for him. He's fully in shape and ready to compete into the fourth and fifth innings. Straily's coming off of a rough start.

"Again, one start can ruin your whole Spring Training from a numbers standpoint, and we've seen a couple of these guys, Deduno and Straily, specifically, that have had one rough inning and some big numbers can pop up a little bit."

While he won't be ready to pitch at the start of the regular season, Brad Peacock has been impressive this spring and will figure into the rotation mix at some point. Coming off October hip surgery, Peacock will throw in a Minor League game on Monday and could get into Grapefruit League action by the end of camp, though he remains likely to start the year on the disabled list.

"I wouldn't mind seeing him against Major League hitters before the end of camp, but that's to be determined," Hinch said.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.