Battle for final rotation spot heats up

Battle for final rotation spot heats up

Battle for final rotation spot heats up
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The race for the fifth starter's spot was front and center Tuesday afternoon, with three of the five candidates for the job -- Nelson Figueroa, Aneury Rodriguez and Lance Pendleton -- all in action in two different games.

Figueroa started the split-squad game against the Mets, his former team, and gave up three hits and one run in one inning. Figueroa allowed New York to load the bases with one out in the first inning, but he allowed just one run on a sacrifice fly.

Rodriguez started the Astros' other split-squad game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., and gave up four hits and one walk in three scoreless innings. He was followed on the mound by Pendleton, who allowed two hits, two walks, one run and hit one batter in two innings.

Figueroa said he doesn't pay much attention to what his competition is doing.

"I'm not looking up stats, not looking up numbers," he said. "I've had camps where I've done outstanding and outpitched everyone in camp and didn't make the team. I don't really put too much basis on that. I go out there and pitch and try to take care of business on the mound and root on my teammates when I'm not on the mound.

"Every single guy that's fighting for the No. 5 spot, we try to find out who's feeling good and try to throw the ball well. The healthy competition is good."

The other two fifth-starter candidates -- Ryan Rowland-Smith and Jordan Lyles -- will pitch Wednesday's game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.