Jesse Crain (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
Jesse Crain had an All-Star season in 2013. Prior to his injury, it doesn’t get any better than the season Crain had last year. The right-hander pitched in 38 games and had a minuscule 0.74 ERA to go along with a 1.15 WHIP.
Based on the way the market for pitching has gone this off-season, Crain figured to sign for a lot more than the one year and $3.25 million contract that the Astros gave him last month. But instead, Jeff Luhnow shopped wisely and got a discount on Crain.
Last season, he was hampered by a biceps and shoulder injuries and had surgery after the season on his biceps. For that reason, there was some concern about his health entering 2014. But as we get ready to head to Spring Training, it doesn’t look like Crain is that far behind after all.
At this point, I would expect for Crain to be limited in the first few weeks of Spring Training, but it is all speculation at this point. Based on this, he likely will be a few weeks behind the other relievers, and I wouldn’t expect to see him in a game until mid-March.
That will likely remove Crain from the early stages of the closer battle leaving Chad Qualls and Josh Fields to contend for that role. Regardless, I think Crain will be a welcome addition to the Astros bullpen as they look to improve on their struggles from last season.