Jul 22, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Wesley Wright (53) walks off the mound after pitching during the eighth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Just How Bad Are These Guys?


The 2013 Houston Astros can be entertaining to watch at times…if you’re the type that’s entertained by watching gruesome horror flicks. They are a completely inconsistent team in every facet of the game. Though they have gaping holes throughout their roster, there is no doubt that the bullpen is their biggest weakness. The few games where the Astros are able to score some runs and get quality starting pitching, the bullpen usually comes in and screws everything up. Watching the relievers work is the equivalent of being forced to watch a video of your own conception while listening to Gilbert Gottfried do a live reading of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII — but just how bad are they?

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

This season, the Astros bullpen is the worst in baseball by a huge margin. They are worst in HR/9, ERA, walks, WHIP, average against and WAR. They are also fifth in BB/9, seventh in blown saves and they lead the league in “F-Bombs” dropped following a pitch. During the live-ball era, only the 1923 Braves and 1950 Dodgers’ bullpens have allowed more than the Astros’ 1.70 HR/9. Their 1.53 WHIP is tied for the worst in franchise history with the 2010 bullpen. The Astros relief corps are on pace to take over the the worst single season WAR since 1920. Their collective WAR is currently negative 3.8. The 1966 Mets’ bullpen holds the record with a negative 4.5, and I have little doubt that our lovable losers can crush that number by season’s end.

While I love bashing the bullpen, let me just say that I am not trying to blame the players for their failures. There are, at best, two MLB quality pitchers in the bullpen. The bullpen was almost completely ignored this offseason, and the current pitchers were never set up for success.

It’s time to make a move. Whatever trades may occur at the deadline, Jeff Luhnow should be sure to bring in some major league-ready relief pitchers. It’s also time to see what young guys like Josh Zeid, Jason Stoffel and Kevin Chapman can do. If the Astros’ bullpen is going to set records for their dreadfulness, I would much rather them do it with young guys that have the potential for a future.

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Tags: Houston Astros Jose Veras Wesley Wright

  • Bob Hulsey

    “I would much rather them do it with young guys that have the potential for a future.” Well, aside from Jose Veras who’s not the problem and the combustible Hector Ambriz who is the 2013 equivalent of Fernando Rodriguez, the bullpen is largely young guys with a future.

    Wesley Wright and Travis Blackley are LOOGYs and we all know how hot and cold that job description is. The problem is they aren’t being used as LOOGYs.

    The rest are young guys with a future – Jose Cisnero, Paul Clemens, Josh Fields, Brett Oberholtzer, Rhiner Cruz.

    Oh, and there’s Lucas Harrell whom the Astros don’t want to start, don’t want to trade while his value is low and don’t want to send back to the minors because he’s probably out of options (the Astros got him as a waiver claim). He might still be here as an available starter if Norris or Bedard are traded.

    Personally, I’m fine with trading Veras, Wright and Harrell and calling guys up but the three you mention could still use some time in AAA and the season is already a lost cause (it has been since February) so Luhnow is probably sitting tight on his assets until he decides whom he should trade and whom he should keep.

    • strosdude9

      Thanks for reading Bob. I’m a big fan of Astros Daily!

      If Ambriz, Wright and Blackley have a future with this team, the Astros’ problems are much worse than anyone knew. Blackley may have some value as LOOGY, but Wright is allowing a .354 OBP and 1.45 HR/9 to lefties. I wouldn’t even let Ambriz fill the water jug. Since they’ve made it this far with Fields, I would be hesitant to let him go, but I haven’t seen anything from him to make me feel like he has a future either

      I do agree that Luhnow should wait until the trade deadline to make major adjustments to the pen, but once that comes around it’s time to make some moves.

      The 3 guys I mentioned are 25 and 26 YO, so I think it’s time to see what we have with them and to get a feel of whether they have any future with the club or not.

  • astrosince1975

    On the subject of guys who aren’t being used properly: Cisnero, Oberholtzer, and Clemens spent their entire minor league careers as starters. So it isn’t surprising that they have all struggled out of the bullpen. Its a different animal and a different routine. I know Cisnero has been pretty good but he has struggled a bit lately.

    I think it would be a good idea to option them all back to OKC and let them work there as relievers. The guys that John mentions are natural relievers and if this season is all about evaluation and not about winning then we need to see what they can do in the bigs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.bennett.756 Bill Bennett

    If you trade Jose Veras, then what are you going to do? Whos there to replace him,,we bitch at having a dag bad pen. People said last year that WE DIDN’T need a closer, we won’t win that much any ways. So where would we be now without a closer? You can’t just throw a guy from the minors in that spot and HOPE he does good. How many pitchers have we screwed up over the last few years doing just that? Maybe they have messed with Harrell he just cant think.