It is very constructive to have dialogue, conversation, and to present varying viewpoints. With that in mind, each week I am going to ask a question of our knowledgeable staff and post their responses below. This week, I would also like to introduce our new addition to the Climbing Tal’s Hill staff, Tyler Stafford. I will also be weighing in with my thoughts. I then ask you, the reader, to offer your opinion and tell us what you think.
Josh Fields (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
From now until the end of the season, who will have the most saves for the Astros?
It looks like Chia-Jen Lo is Bo Porter‘s choice — at least for the time being. Porter has been known to change his mind at a moment’s notice but Lo has been the Astros most effective reliever since the departure of Jose Veras. As long as Lo continues to succeed the closer’s job should be his to lose.
I think Lo will be effective enough to hang on to the job long enough to get a few saves. I don’t see anyone else in the bullpen that looks like a threat to overtake him. For those reasons, I have to go with Lo.
As of a month ago, the answer to this question was an easy one. Jose Veras was going to be traded, and Jose Cisnero would be the closer. However, like a lot of things this season for the Astros, it did not go according to plan. Cisnero is now in AAA and Josh Fields is the only member of the bullpen who was in the bullpen to start the season.
And that is part of the reason why I think Fields is the pick here. Now that does not mean he will be the only pitcher to get a save for the Astros for the rest of the season, but I do think he will have the most.
After the trade of Veras, Porter first went to Fields to close out games. He got one save, but then promptly blew his next save chance. Fields then appeared in two non-save situations before Porter went back to him to get the save in Wednesday night’s game.
On the season, Fields’ ERA sits at 6.85, but believe it or not he has the most major league experience in the bullpen as a late inning reliever. He has experience closing games in the minor leagues, and when Jeff Luhnow acquired him in the Rule 5 draft, it seemed that it was done with this in mind.
While I’m fairly certain there isn’t a MLB closer in the current bullpen, I will say that Chia-Jen Lo would probably be the best option. He is primarily a two-pitch pitcher with a good fastball and an average curve. He does have a change up that he can mix in to keep hitters off-balance. So far this season, only one of Lo’s four inherited runners have scored, and he is yet to allow a run of his own in 6.1 innings. Bo Porter has handed him the ball in two save opportunities and Lo managed to save one of those. Do we have anyone else that can throw an inning without allowing a run (or four runs)?
Josh Fields – Well if everyone has zero saves I guess it’s a tie, right? Okay, I won’t go that far, but I can’t imagine any reliever will have more than about 5-7 saves when the season is all wrapped up. I’ve looked through the last several box scores and it doesn’t seem like anyone specific really deserves the gig. With that said, the last person to record a save for the Astros was Josh Fields. Sure his ERA may be 7.15, but he does have 24 K in 22.2 IP. Being forced to give an answer I’d go with Fields, but anyone (specifically Chia-Jen Lo) wouldn’t surprise me if they lead the team in saves, whether it be 3, 5, or even (somehow) 7 saves when it’s all said and done.
This week’s question asked, ‘who will lead the ‘Stros in saves from here on out?’ I figured I might as well try and solve one of these. Since dealing Jose Veras to the Detroit Tigers the Astros have extended their bullpen rotation from the 6th, 7th, 8th, and now into the 9th. The most recent Astro to record a save was Josh Fields in last night’s 11 inning Ranger-helping 2 to 1 victory in Oakland. Recent save opportunities have gone to Chia-Jen Lo (1-2) and Josh Zeid (0-1), and yes Zeid was piece #3 in the Hunter Pence trade. So it’s been a crapshoot to say the least. If I had to predict who would lead the way in saves the rest of the way, I’d have to go with my gut in such an impossible predicament.
When the season began I predicted Josh Fields would step in for saves in the event Jose Veras was dealt. It appears it won’t be ‘for saves’ but the ‘majority of saves.’
So Josh Fields. Hesitantly. RAY MADE ME CHOOSE
What a tough question. Not in the sense that there will be so many games the Astros need saving, but because I honestly don’t know how often a “reliever” is going to get a chance to save a game without somebody blowing a lead.
That being said, I’m going to go with someone I don’t think anyone will see coming. Philip Humber. Yes that Philip Humber, and I have basically one reason to think that. I think Bo Porter gives the job to the person he thinks has earned it, and I think Humber gets the first chance because of his experience. Clearly the rookies aren’t getting it done in pressure situations, so maybe this old vet will? Probably not, but I bet Bo gives him a shot first. Still, I think the guy with the most saves at the end of the season has 6 or 7 tops.
I re-read my answer and it sounds ridiculous, but I’m sticking with it. Phil Humber will lead the Astros in saves at the end of the season.