Luke Gregerson is a name that has been mentioned both on this site, and more recently by Evan Drellich, in relation to the Houston Astros.
At this point, that tweet shouldn’t be earth shattering. With Andrew Miller and David Robertson off of the free agent market, both Gregerson and Romo make sense if the Astros hope to strengthen their bullpen. Pairing the two would be ideal, but if the Astros can only land one, it should be Gregerson. Here’s why.
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For starters, Gregerson, a 30-year old setup man, hasn’t had an ERA over 3.00 since 2010. His weapon of choice is the slider, and will give his team between 65-70 innings each year. Sounds like closer material, right? Well, not exactly. After Jim Johnson struggled with Oakland to start the season, Gregerson was given the first opportunity to claim the closer role. On the season, Gregerson blew eight saves in eleven chances, so obviously that didn’t work out. Sean Doolittle eventually took over the job, and excelled.
So why add Gregerson, if the Astros can only sign one reliever (in this scenario)? In the setup role, Gregerson performed much better, finishing the season with a 2.12 ERA. If that is the case, then who is the closer? Why, Chad Qualls of course! Think of it this way: Qualls compiled a 3.33 ERA, with the Oakland A’s pinning 4 losses, and twelve of his 19 earned runs on him in 2014. Which team has been the busiest this offseason? That’s right, Oakland.
The A’s have traded away their 3-4-5 hitters in the span of a few months, and while their lineup still has some potential to score, they will not be putting up runs at the same clip that saw them rank fourth in baseball in runs scored. Qualls’ kryptonite is rebuilding, so for 2015, the Astros may get a pass on acquiring a “front-line” closer, allowing them to address other problem areas this winter.
If the team reaches .500 and fulfills some of the promise they have shown, instead of free agents avoiding Houston when they offer more money, they may take less to join a contending team, much like Jon Lester did with the Cubs.