Houston Astros: Who’s Closing Games in 2015?

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We’re all excited about the additions of Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek to a Houston Astros bullpen that was dreadful in 2014, posting a 4.80 ERA and a 20-26 record. While some are expecting Gregerson to hop in and fill the closer role, that may not be the best course of action.

With Oakland last season, Gregerson went 5-5 with an astounding 2.11 ERA. Case closed, right? Well, not exactly. After Jim Johnson struggled closing out games at the outset of 2014, the A’s tried Gregerson in the role, and found he wasn’t much better, saving just three of eleven opportunities in 2014.

For me, Gregerson is not the guy to close out games for the Houston Astros, even if he has the closer’s incentives laid out in his contract. Instead, I’d like to see Houston go another route. There is always last year’s option in Chad Qualls, who pitched pretty well when the opposing team wasn’t wearing green and gold.

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Against Oakland, Qualls allowed twelve of his nineteen earned runs in just four innings. Take out his performances against the A’s, and Qualls comes in with 47 1/3 innings pitched, and seven runs allowed, which is an ERA of 1.33. That, I’m positive, any fan can live with.

Say the Astros don’t want to go with Qualls in the ninth. There are still a couple of options on the free agent market, and we’ve talked about them before: Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano.

Since 2010, the 32-year old K-Rod holds a 3.05 ERA, and is still striking out nearly ten batters per nine innings pitched. The 35-year old Soriano has been slightly better, with a 2.78 ERA over that same time frame, and strikes out just over eight batters per nine.

Both are still viable options for the Houston Astros as other long-term options continue to develop in the minors, but are they worth the money? For a team that can be seen in more homes in 2015 thanks to their new TV deal, and a team that is looking to make a statement in 2015 by reaching .500, adding an established closer would be a nice move.

At this point in the offseason, what do you think the Astros should do? Address other areas of concern, or put the finishing touches on their biggest problem area for the past few seasons?

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