19. Closer: Ken Giles
20. Setup: Luke Gregerson
21. Tony Sipp
22. Will Harris
23. Pat Neshek
24. Josh Fields
25. Wandy Rodriguez
The bullpen should be one of the Astros strengths this season, bolstered by 100 miles Giles at the back of the bullpen. The Astros gave up a lot to get Giles, so don’t expect him not to be the closer, despite what A.J. Hinch has said to the media. Gregerson has been hampered by an injury this spring, but he has pitched a few innings in minor league games.
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Should Gregerson not be ready, I see James Hoyt making the team in the bullpen following a strong performance this spring. According to Drellich, Gregerson is supposed to make his Grapefruit League debut this weekend. All reports are that his stuff is good, let’s get that horse in there, the team is that much better with both Giles and Gregerson.
Neshek should have a bounce back season after pitching with foot pain with a weird bone that was in his foot. I’m sure that affected his delivery more than he would admit with his herky-jerky style of pitching. Should he revert back to the 2014 version and with the emergence of Sipp and Harris last season, the 3-4-5 guys should be dominant.
Fields is often the forgotten guy in the bullpen, but he would be an eighth inning guy on other teams. He must work on his control and not allowing the walks and singles prior to giving up the big hits. The Astros took a flier on former pitcher Rodriguez, as I wrote yesterday here: Houston Astros Release Neal Cotts, Wandy a Lock for Team? The depth in the minors is also strong, and these are not the 2013 Astros anymore.
While there may not be any shockers here, the next few days will be interesting to follow with the backup catcher. If the Astros see a better option in the market for a backup catcher, they will take it knowing that they are an injury away from having one of Pena or Heineman as the starter.