Houston Astros’ Bullpen Problems, What’s New?

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May 13, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro (left) and relief pitcher Luke Gregerson (44) celebrate a victory against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
May 13, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro (left) and relief pitcher Luke Gregerson (44) celebrate a victory against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports /
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Option 2: Will Harris– Somewhat Likely

May 6, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Will Harris (36) reacts after getting an out during the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Will Harris (36) reacts after getting an out during the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Another example of the redemptive work of pitching coach Brent Strom, Harris, in his two years as a member of the Houston Astros, has quietly become one of the most reliable set-up men in the American League.

Since being claimed from waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks in November 2014, Harris has a record of 5-6 with a 1.61 ERA and a 0.859 WHIP.

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Armed with a cutter and a changeup that Harris throws a combine 94.7% of the time, he has been stellar so far in 2016. In his 18 games, Harris has an ERA and WHIP of 0.48 and 0.70 respectively. He has a batting average against of .159 and leaves runners on base 92.3% of the time.

He is doing all of this with a cutter in the low 90’s and a changeup in the low 80’s. That velocity really doesn’t make him a strikeout type of pitcher, averaging only 8.68 per 9 innings. He is getting the majority of his outs via the ground ball at a whopping 72%.

Why would he be a good fit for the closer role? He is used to those high-pressure situations. So far this season, Harris has already racked up ten holds as the primary set-up man for A.J. Hinch’s bullpen. Also, he does have save experience, recording 2 in 6 chances a year ago.

Like his starting pitcher counterpart Collin McHugh, Harris revived his career as a member of the Astros. Even though it may not be as permanent of a spot if Harris does well like it would be if it were Giles, Harris has earned the opportunity to close games.

Next: Option 3

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