Astros: Who’s Left in the Left-Handed Relief Market?


Don’t Settle for the Leftover Lefties for the Astros Bullpen

The Houston Astros are reportedly losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the race to acquire left-handed flame-thrower, Aroldis Chapman. Apparently, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Astros and Cincinnati Reds were having a hard time matching up on a trade. Chapman is considered by most as the premier closer available, but there are other options for the Astros that could be cheaper regarding prospects needed.

The reported Chapman deal has yet to go through, with several teams still in the mix. While we do not know if Chapman is officially a Dodger yet, we know that the Astros are going to try to get a closer through a trade. CTH has basically covered all the top candidates, and they are Ken Giles, Brad Boxberger, Jake McGee, and Drew Storen.

All of these pitchers would probably cheaper than Chapman. I have a theory, the Astros have a number they are willing to bring in a left-handed pitcher to the Astros, but they are waiting to see what happens with obtaining a closer before addressing the hole in the bullpen.

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Who are some of the top left-handed free-agents out of the bullpen, let’s look at a few?

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Tony Sipp

The 2015 Astros lefty specialist turned setup pitcher in the playoffs is the top left-handed reliever on the market. Most likely he will be paid like one, hopefully by the Astros. A journeyman before being claimed on waivers in the 2014 season, Sipp has turned his career around. If I were Sipp, I would not want to leave Houston because he seems to have more success with them.

Sipp gained the trust of manager A.J. Hinch, so it would be a shame if the Astros can not sign him. Why normally I would not condone spending too much for a lefty reliever, but Sipp could be worth it. All stats by Baseball-Reference and pitch speeds from Fangraphs.

2015 Stats: 3-4/1.99 ERA/ 62 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.

Antonio Bastardo

If the Astros lose Sipp to another team, all focus needs to be directed at Bastardo because there is a big drop of after him. Thankfully for Bastardo, he was not on the Philidelphia Phillies 2015 squad. Instead, he found himself on the losing Wild-Card team Pirates.

According to Fangraphs, Bastardo throws a fastball (92.8 MPH), a slider (84.2 MPH), and changeup (85.6 MPH). Except for his rookie season and 2013 season, Bastardo average more than ten strikeouts per nine innings pitched. To be fair, his 2013 strikeout percentage was 9.91, that should round up to ten.

2015 Stats: 4-1/ 2.98 ERA/ 65 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings.

Fernando Abad

Could the former Astros reliever make a return to Houston for the 2016 season? Abad did not have a great first go around in Houston, but went to Oakland and had some success. After two great seasons with the Athletics, he had his worst year with them in 2015. He could have a rebound season with the Astros, but wouldn’t be as safe an option as the first two.

2015 Stats: 2-2/ 4.15 ERA/ 45 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings.

Manny Parra

Once again, not a trendy pick, but once you get to the bottom, you really are at the bottom. You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit is what my kids would say. There are other left-handed relievers, but Parra has had some decent success out of the bullpen versus his early struggles in the rotation in his early years in Milwaukee.

2015 Stats: 1-2/ 3.90 ERA/ 23 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings.

The Astros need to move quickly while they can get Sipp and/or Bastardo. With the limited availability of quality lefthanders on the free agent market, the Astros cannot afford to wait. Becuase the Astros know what Sipp offers, they should do what it takes to get Sipp to re-sign in Houston. Time for the Astros to show Tony Sipp the money.

Next: Houston Astros: Top 10 Starting Pitchers in Franchise History

There are also rumors that the Astros are interested in acquiring Mark Melancon and Andrew Miller from their respective teams, but the price tag could be high on a talent like that.