Latest blown save leads to more questions about ‘pen


Things are still looking bleak in the Astros bullpen. The walkoff homerun that Josh Fields gave up to Kyle Seager is just the latest of a number of absolute meltdowns by what is the 2014 Astros bullpen.

Unlike the first place Oakland Athletics who victimized Chad Qualls last weekend, the Mariners haven’t been able to do anything. Especially Kyle Seager! Seattle entered yesterday’s contest on an 8-game losing streak and only 1/2 game ahead of the Astros in the standings. Their young third-baseman was hitting only .156 and slugging a measly .219.

As we all know… that changed in a hurry. The blown save was Josh’s first of the season. Fields had successfully protected leads on both Monday and Tuesday.

A couple of great quotes came out of Brian McTaggarts game recap. Porter’s response when he was asked if he thought Fields was ready:

"I don’t know how you could not be ready. He had a whole half an inning. As soon as the last out in the eighth inning was made, the phone call was made and Fields got the ninth."

Excuse me, Bo? Wouldn’t it have been better to just say “yeah, he was ready”? I mean, what happened to the motivational leader Bo Porter? Would it kill you to refrain from being negative for a second or two while you are talking about the man you have selected to be your closer?

Was he ready? Maybe the real question her is: was Bo Porter ready for that question? Nooooooooo!

Even Jarred Cosart has surpassed Porter when it comes to media savvy. The pitcher known for his poor choice of words on Twitter told McTaggart:

"I think everybody in the bullpen has been throwing the ball really well, especially Fields. It’s his third day in a row for the first time all year. He was probably a little tired, whether he says so or not."

That a boy, Jarred! Way to stick up for your teammates. If only your manager could do the same.

In addition to Fields, Matt Albers is also unavailable for tonight’s game. Matt hasn’t pitched since Monday due to a nagging shoulder injury.  Could Albers be joining fellow veteran reliever Jesse Crain on the disabled list?

Crain, who was already hurt when the Astros signed him to a 1-year, $3.25 million contract is still at extended spring training and has yet to throw in a game. Don’t expect Crain and his surgically repaired bicep to be closing out games for the Astros any time soon. At this point, a mid-May debut could be the best case scenario for the right-hander.

No photos of Jesse Crain throwing a baseball while wearing an Astros uniform were available (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

So Qualls is left to play the role of closer tonight and could possibly become the primary option going forward. Hopefully things go better than they did the last time he faced the A’s (if he gets a chance).

The overall numbers for the Astros bullpen are pretty frightening. I know it’s still early, but the ‘pen still has to be considered a weakness. Houston relievers have the second highest ERA in the league (5.35), the worst FIP (4.67), and have allowed more homers (11) than any other bullpen.

The team doesn’t have a lefty that can actually get major league hitters out. Besides the ailing Albers, only three other relievers (Bass, Clemens & Fields) have an ERA below 6.00. Bo Porter still has his work cut out for him here. Get ready for a wild ride.