I am going to first begin under the assumption that you have never heard of Jason Stoffel. And to be honest, that is perfectly alright. Minor league relievers who were not high draft picks generally are not well known.
However, that does not mean we should completely ignore them. By no means am I going to suggest that Stoffel could have been the savior the Astros were looking for in their bullpen. To be perfectly honest, it is very possible that he could have been called up to Houston and failed. But, there is no way of knowing this without giving Stoffel a chance at the major league level.
While the Astros bullpen floundered, Stoffel had a pretty good season in AAA for Oklahoma City. Let’s take a look at his stat line:
62.1 innings. 44 games, 8-1, 3.47 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 51 strikeouts
This is not lights out by any means, but it is pretty good. The year before, Stoffel saved 27 games in AA for Corpus Christi. For most of the season, the Astros were just taking any arms they could find and putting them in the bullpen. Aside from the fact that Stoffel is a right hander, I certainly would have preferred seeing him as opposed to Wade Leblanc. And did we really need to see that much of Hector Ambriz? Perhaps Stoffel could have gotten some key outs for the Astros out of the bullpen this season.
I do understand the logic in keeping Stoffel with Oklahoma City through their playoff run, but once that was completed Stoffel deserved a shot in the major leagues. As we begin to think about the 2014 season, it wouldn’t have hurt to give him a chance to prove himself.
Now there is the variable of Stoffel not being on the 40-man roster, but there are enough expendable pieces that could have been moved around to make that work.
As the Astros essentially build a bullpen from scratch, they cannot afford to leave any stones unturned.