After dropping two games to the Royals earlier this week, I asked myself, “Why are they struggling with this team?” Left-handed hitters are making it tough for the Astros bullpen.
This year’s Astros have been sensational. It is apparent this team has all the makings of a World Series contender. The starting rotation is solid, the line-up is tough, and the defense is very capable. We have had some bumps on the road, but that’s to be expected. This is baseball. It’s not a game which statistics can answer at times. However, there is one need the team must address at the trade deadline, a left-handed reliever.
Current state of the bullpen
The current bullpen consists of right-handed pitchers, with only one left-handed reliever. As we all know, the matchups are best when you place a lefty on a lefty or vise-versa. Sadly, the bullpen does not have much to offer this match-up. There’s no doubt that the Astros bullpen is solid, but there is a gap when creating mismatches against opposing hitters. All in all, this is a specific need the Astros must target.
What the Royals taught us
Wednesday night’s loss to the Royals highlighted this flaw in the Astros bullpen, the lack of a left-handed reliever. The pitching staff faced a line-up with four left-handed hitters, all while the Astros bullpen only had one left-handed reliever, Tony Sipp, to create a mismatch.
However, Sipp has not been as effective as in the past and is becoming more and more of a specialist. The Astros need to acquire a left-handed reliever that can take on multiple hitters and be a force in the later part of games.
We all know this Houston team is good, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that there is room to improve. Teams like the Royals and Indians, who do show a mix of left-handed hitters with right-handed hitters, will pose the biggest threat to our World Series efforts. Adding an effective left-handed relief option late in games would help solve this quandary.