Jerome Williams (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Jerome Williams: The Experiment has Failed

This offseason the Houston Astros made several acquisitions in free agency. One of the most puzzling moves was signing Jerome Williams. Prior to joining the organization, Williams had two seasons in which his ERA was better than average. The rest of his big-league experience has seen him struggle to limit hits and therefore eliminate runs.

Obviously it is beneficial to have a stable veteran presence to rely on from time to time. But Williams is far from fulfilling that role. The biggest issue in designating him for assignment is likely his contract. With a $2.1 million beginning salary, there is likely a sustainable portion left for the Astros to cover. Honestly I would rather them pay for him to be off the team and letting a young guy get some experience.

The in-season acquisitions of Tony Sipp and Kyle Farnsworth have tremendously helped the bullpen. This is another issue that is preventing the Astros from releasing Williams. Due to Jerome’s experience as both a starter and reliever in the majors, he is available for long relief in most games.

Chad Qualls, an offseason signing, has been dominant since a rough outing in Oakland to begin the season. Together the three veterans of Sipp, Farnsworth, and Qualls are good for the support many young arms need. Josh Zeid has been brilliant in his most recent recall. Darin Downs, a waiver claim, is making the analytic team that Jeff Luhnow brought in look very smart.

So with all of these successes how is it that Jerome Williams is still on this roster? The team is now 7-15 in games in which he has appeared following the depressing loss to David Price and the Rays on Father’s Day.

Perhaps the most annoying aspect of Williams’ use is that he has begun to work in high leverage situations. Drellich’s tweet makes it very difficult to understand how Jerome is being used in such important at-bats late in the game.

I think the only reason that is really keeping Williams on this team is the number of guys on the disabled list. Matt Albers is rehabbing in Florida along with Anthony Bass. Jesse Crain has yet to throw to hitters but seems likely to return at the beginning of July. Help is certainly on the way.

For now I think it is time that the Astros release Williams and his 5+ ERA. The question is really who would take his place? Among players on the 40-man roster, perhaps Brett Oberholtzer could rejoin the major league team. But with two off days this week, there really is no need in bringing a six man rotation into the mix. David Martinez had a rough debut with the Astros last season, posting a 7.15 ERA though in just 11 2/3 innings.

If Williams were to be DFA’d a 40-man roster spot would open up. Perhaps the best option is to give Nick Tropeano some innings out of the bullpen. There are several pitchers in AAA that are currently deserving of a promotion. Tropeano is due to start Monday night for the Redhawks and would be fresh to get his major league debut Tuesday night against the Washington Nationals. Tropeano currently has a 4-4 record with a 2.31 ERA for the Redhawks this season.

There is also Mike Foltynewicz ready, but he pitched on Saturday night, and Jake Buchanan is scheduled to start Sunday night.

The biggest obstacles in releasing Williams are the payroll implications and finding a long-relief pitcher. But with many guys due to come of the disabled list soon between Bass, Albers, and Crain a move should be made now.

Tags: Houston Astros Jerome Williams Nick Tropeano

  • Leif Daddow

    Do you actually think Luhnow will release him?

    • Kennon Riley

      This team is in the pack. They might not be in the middle, but they’re a winning streak away from being a serious team in this years road to October.

      They aren’t going to win with Jerome Williams. He’s not good.

    • Greg Thurston

      I think he will.

  • Bob Hulsey

    While I was not a fan of signing Williams, the stat about his W-L record in games appeared is deceiving since he is most often asked to appear when the starting pitcher had an early exit as Peacock did on Sunday. Williams is what he is but he apparently can work multiple innings on multiple occasions and make the rest of the bullpen look better than they’d otherwise be. Salary implications or not, Williams is doing what he was signed to do – be the long guy in mop-up situations.

    My question is why Porter brings him on in close games like the one on Sunday. Williams may indeed get moved once some of the arms on the DL return with either Bass or Clemens most likely to take over his role but Williams has been a good soldier for Porter unlike Bedard last year who fussed any time he was not in the rotation.

    • Kennon Riley

      I agree with both points. The W-L in games appeared is deceptive and is not fair in gauging his effectiveness. However it does provide a sort of “white flag” scenario where Jerome is only pitching in games that appear not to matter to the manager. I think that it would make more sense to get him off the MLB team. They have lots of arms ready and waiting in Triple-A, why not let them have some experience prior to the injured arms coming back?

  • Gene Reed

    Too many weak links on the Astros. Chris Carter is the modern day Rob Deer and can’t even hit 200. Robb ie Grossman is gross dead weight. Don’t tell me he’s the best option in our system to waste 4 atbats per game on.Trouble is they would probably just bring back Mark Krause (which might even be an improvement) Maybe they could get J.D. Martinez back. Now there is an idea. In his worst days he was 10 times better than Robbie Grossman. (maybe I’m exagerating but you get the point) Grossman for Martinez. Nah, the Tigers would never go for that one. Maybe that’s our chance to throw in Jerome Williams.