Gustave beats out Hoyt for final ‘pen spot

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The odd man out is righty James Hoyt, who was in a neck-and-neck battle with Gustave for the final roster spot. Following the Astros’ 8-6 exhibition win over the Cubs, manager A.J. Hinch informed Hoyt he will begin the season at Triple-A Fresno.

“He’s going down to Triple-A,” Hinch said. “It’s a level he’s dominated, it’s a level he’s been better than for the better part of the last couple of seasons. I feel terrible for him, because he deserves to be a big leaguer. The calendar causes us to have to choose, and we chose Gustave.”

Hoyt escapes bases-loaded jam

Hoyt recorded a 3.18 ERA over 10 spring appearances, allowing four earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. Gustave allowed four runs (two earned) over 10 innings in 11 outings.

“As I told James, I’m not sure there’s a real good justification either way,” Hinch said. “I’m proud of Gustave’s spring. He earned it. He did a really good job implementing a couple of new pitches for him. He’s thrown a few more sliders, he’s locating his fastball better. He’s had some really dominant outings. Take nothing away from him.”

Hoyt, 30, debuted with the Astros last season, spending the final two months with the big league club. He took the news that he did not make the Opening Day roster in stride, realizing he has a good chance to see big league time this season.

“At the end of the day, this is a business and all I can do is go down there and continue to pitch well and eventually help out this team,” Hoyt said. “It’s a 25-man roster. Only 25 guys are coming, not 26. I’ll just go down there, keep working and hopefully be back up here sooner than later.”

The rest of the roster has been set for a while. The five starters will be Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., Charlie Morton, Joe Musgrove and Mike Fiers. Collin McHugh will begin the season on the 10-day disabled list with right arm fatigue and is expected to rejoin the Astros after making an undetermined number of Minor League rehab starts.

Infielders include Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Yulieski Gurriel and Marwin Gonzalez. The outfield consists of Norichika Aoki, Carlos Beltran, Jake Marisnick, Josh Reddick and George Springer. Beltran will also see time as the designated hitter. The club will carry two catchers — Brian McCann and Evan Gattis.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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