Kevin Chapman (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Astros Are Left with One Left Hander in the Bullpen

Ever since the Houston Astros claimed Raul Valdes off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies last fall, I questioned his place on the 40-man roster. So it is only fitting that as he is designated for assignment today, once again I have my doubts.

One benefit, if you can call it that, of having the worst record in baseball is that it gives you the highest waiver priority. Now it is not something to be excited about, and has minimal impact, but it is a perk. That allowed Jeff Luhnow to claim former Pittsburgh Pirate, and more recent member of the Minnesota Twins, Alex Presley off waivers.

Presley has had an up and down career so far and struggled in Spring Training hitting .189 in 37 at bats. So far in his major league career Presley has 769 at bats in which he has hit .264 with 17 home runs, 60 RBI’s, and 20 stolen bases. The left-handed batter is a versatile defender and makes the perfect fourth outfielder. At this point what you see out of the 28-year old is what you get, but there is still some room for growth.

With the Astros only carrying three bench players before the acquisition of Presley, and no true backup outfielder, I like this addition. It also brings the bullpen down to seven relievers which I think is sufficient. This is especially true when you have two starting pitchers, Brad Peacock and Jerome Williams, pitching in relief along with Anthony Bass who has some experience as a starting pitcher.

But this does not mean I totally agree with the composition of the Astros’ pitching staff. All spring Bo Porter stated a desire to have two left-handers in the bullpen, and the veteran Valdes was a perfect fit for the role. So far this spring the 36-year old had a 1.69 ERA in 5.1 innings with six strikeouts. The presence of Valdes would also reduce the load on Kevin Chapman.

To be fair, Darin Downs is more than capable and available in AAA, so this more of me having an issue with Dallas Keuchel in the rotation. Nothing against Keuchel because I think he is a solid swing pitcher, but the Astros would have been better served by sending him down to AAA and moving Peacock into the starting rotation.

With no options remaining, Peacock must remain in Houston, but at this point I rather see if he can improve on his strong second half of 2013 than suffer through more of the same from Keuchel and his 5.82 ERA to go with a 1.65 WHIP this spring.


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Tags: Houston Astros Raul Valdes

  • astrosince1975

    Yes. The team decided that someone who can play all 3 OF positions is more valuable than an 8th reliever. But you can’t go with Chapman as the lone lefty. Either keep Valdes and send a righty down or put Keuchel in the ‘pen and start Peacock. Presley is a decent addition but a second lefty in the ‘pen is a must. I guess there’s still time to make another adjustment. Peacock actually has option remaining. Harrell is now the only pitcher who doesn’t.

    • Ray_Kuhn_28

      Yeah thats one of my biggest things here. Presley is valuable and has some upside, so I think this is a good move. The second lefty is important though. I would be fine if it were Downs or even Luis Cruz at some point this year.

      • Kennon Riley

        I would be absolutely ecstatic to see Luis Cruz. I’m not much of a scout, however, that kid looks like he is the real deal. Again I hardly get to see action from first row behind the dish but I saw him playing in San Antonio and he blew me away.

  • Will_Tulsa

    Keuchel is 2-1 in spring training with 17 innings pitched – and they won the last no decision in which he gave up 4 runs in the first but none in the next 3 . A fan suffers through wins and losses – not ERA and WHIP.

    You want to start Peacock who has pitched 5.1 innings in spring training with no starts? And a 10.13 ERA..

    • Kennon Riley

      ERA doesn’t really account for much in Spring Training. Pitchers are stretching themselves out again. They are also working on getting through pitch sequences and location. Would you be surprised to see that Clayton Kershaw has a 9.20 ERA through his spring training? Even the King has an ERA that is widely regarded as unacceptable for a regular pitcher at 4.73.

      Peacock also had a tremendous showing in the big leagues in his second stint. I am quite surprised that he has been kicked out of the rotation.

      • Will_Tulsa

        I agree on the ERA number, but Keuchel’s ERA number was used to make a point in support of Peacock.. Kershaw has a multi-year track record as the best pitcher in baseball, so that is different.
        I think Keuchel was the right choice – we’ll see.

        • Kennon Riley

          Perhaps using Kershaw wasn’t the best option, but the point is that pitchers often do retain high ERAs in spring training due to the limitation in innings. ERA is partially a poor statistic in the fact that it measures a pitcher’s performance against 9 innings. Very few pitchers nowadays pitch a complete game.

        • Ray_Kuhn_28

          Yeah, to be fair the ERA works both ways and I used Keuchel’s to prove my point while ignoring peacock’s. Yes the sample size is a lot bigger for Keuchel than Peacock, but I do see your point. To me there is potential in Peacock, and not much in Keuchel. Rather try the upside guy first, especially after his strong September. Granted Keuchel was good towards the end of last year also, so we will see. This is a move that can be corrected either way, but I thought it was strange to let Valdes go after holding onto him all off-season and he had a strong spring.