Here’s hoping Chris Devenski is an Astros’ reliever in 2017.
You can almost smell the baseballs being fouled off by Houston Astros hitters in the air. The Astros played their first Spring game Saturday, but they will not be led out of the gate by Dallas Keuchel. Instead, Brad Peacock got the nod versus the Tigers. While it is no guarantee that Peacock will make the opening day roster, he is out of options. I was told to stop bringing that up, moving on.
Brady Rodgers pitched today, Joseph Musgrove, Mike Fiers, and Chris Devenski will follow Peacock. It is no accident that these guys are getting early starts. They are all fighting to become the fifth starter in the rotation. Newcomer Charlie Morton is penciled in the rotation, but nothing is guaranteed.
When A.J. Hinch joined us on Talking Stros in December, he mentioned that they were considering Devenski in the rotation. They were going to stretch him out during spring training games. However, he is really valuable in the role he serves, in the bullpen. Not too many people knew about Devenski at the start of last year, but that changed at the end of 2016.
According to Fangraphs, part of Devenski’s success comes from the speed differential between fastball and changeup. Devenski averages 92 mph on his fastball but can drop down to 80 mph with his changeup. Enos Sarris wrote that it is the fourth largest difference since 2014.
This brings back memories of Roy Oswalt, who had a mid-nineties fastball with a slow curve ball as the equalizer. Devenski will most likely end up in the bullpen. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a save here and there. Hinch mentioned at a season ticket holder event that Devenski had earned his trust. Ken Giles will be the closer, but he could be called into high leverage situations earlier than the ninth inning.
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Hinch would have equal confidence with Luke Gregerson, Will Harris, or Devenski to get the final three outs of a game. With Devenski’s delivery, he could pitch one inning or three innings. It’s hard to find a guy who can do what Devenski can do. Bases loaded in the seventh inning, who could you bring in to shut the other team down. If I were Hinch, I would go Devenski over Giles.
In 19 games last year when Devenski inherited runners on base, he only allowed them to score twice. One time was when he inherited the bases loaded. One run came home to score versus the Tigers. Devenski ended up getting the win during that game. The other time was versus the Tigers in a blowout game where the Astros lost 6-14.
Even when Devenski allowed inherited runners to score, it didn’t matter either way. He was successful 89% of the time with inherited runners on base. Last year, he started five games and appeared out of the bullpen 43 times. Whether he is in the bullpen or the rotation is the question, but he will make this team. He will be a big part of the Astros winning in 2017, but the bullpen is the better spot for him.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***