Right or wrong, Hector Ambriz became a symbol for the ineptitude of the Astros bullpen this season.
Not like Ambriz was ever really that highly regarded, but he had some success to close out the 2012 season. That led him to be talked about as a contender for the closer’s job going into this season. The reliever instead opened the 2013 as a setup man, and quickly fell out of favor. Ambriz’s performance was a let down, and he certainly struggled, but it should have been expected to some degree as he really did not have a track record of success.
However, that did not make his consistent struggles, 5.70 ERA, and just embarrassing 1.76 WHIP any easier to tolerate for Astros fans. The problem too though, is that it seemed like he just kept on coming back. He would go down to Oklahoma City, and then a few games later reappear and struggle once more.
So when I saw the news that Ambriz had been designated for assignment on Thursday, I felt a little relief. Now it is not really fair to put the Astros struggles this season, or the struggles of the bullpen, on Ambriz, but it happened. But now he is gone, and we do not have to worry about him tormenting us this September.
The move was made to open up a roster spot for outfielder Eric Thames. Thames is essentially a career minor leaguer who did have have some success last season in 95 games with the Blue Jays hitting .262 with 12 home runs. I can’t imagine the Astros have any expectations for Thames beyond this season, other than to be a healthy bat and outfielder on the bench for the remainder of the season.
Robbie Grossman is still bothered by an oblique injury and rightfully so the Astros didn’t want to disrupt any of their minor leaguers as they were all competing in the playoffs. So they terminated their relationship a month earlier with Ambriz to add a healthy player.