By this point, the struggles of the Houston Astros bullpen have been rehashed to the point where the average fan may well have committed those statistical struggles to memory. That 4.80 ERA, worse than even the Colorado Rockies bullpen, has been burned into our collective hippocampus. It is quite obvious that several changes need to be made for the bullpen to be effective in 2015.
However, given the numerous areas that the Astros are looking to improve this offseason, even that $20 Million they may have to spend might not be enough without finding a bargain or three. One place to find a potential steal may be in the list of players who were non-tendered on Tuesday. Of those players, one name that potentially stands out is Francisley Bueno.
At first glance, Bueno is exactly the type of reliever that the Astros should avoid. His overall numbers, which include a 4.18 ERA, a 1.330 WHiP and a 5.6 strikeout per nine rate, are eminently forgettable. At age 34 heading into the 2015 season, Bueno looks like a camp arm and minor league depth at best.
However, a deeper look into Francisley Bueno’s numbers indicates that he could have a role in a major league bullpen. If Bueno has one ability, it is his ability to pitch well against lefties, holding lefties to a .206/.235/.270 batting line. That performance backs up his career marks, as Bueno has given up a .217/.252/.278 batting line to lefties in their 124 plate appearances against him.
Yes, the Astros already have an excellent lefty specialist on their roster in Tony Sipp, who held lefties to a .138/.227/.276 batting line last year. However, Sipp is eligible for arbitration for the third and final time this season, and is likely to see a decent pay raise from the $1.275 Million he received last year. Bueno, for what is likely to be far less, could be an adequate replacement as the Astros get another piece for Sipp.
Francisley Bueno may not be the most exciting name in free agency, but he could help fortify the Astros bullpen for minimal cost.