Astros may be better off targeting relief pitching at the deadline

MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: Chris Devenski
MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: Chris Devenski /

Like pesky mosquitoes, the trade rumors in summer never seem to stop. And the Astros are seemingly involved in nearly every one.

Quality starting pitchers are all the rage this month. Every team desires them. Fans want their teams to trade for them. Heck, the Astros are mentioned in almost every rumor involving a decent starting pitcher. I expect them to be interested in Jaime Garcia after his impressive start last night against the Dodgers.


This begs a simple question, though.

Should the Astros strive for a bullpen acquisition instead of a rotation one?

Thanks to the impending returns of Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh, the Astros could suddenly find themselves with a starting rotation logjam. This is not a bad problem to have for a baseball team.

*Knock on wood about their health*

Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton will remain in the starting rotation since, you know, they are both quality starting pitchers.

Random fan asks, “How about we move McCullers to the ‘pen?”

No. Just no. This argument is so 2015.

The remaining rotation spot likely belongs to Mike Fiers for the foreseeable future. After all, Joe Musgrove is currently listed in the bullpen on the Astros depth chart. Don’t forget about Francis Martes, too. As for Brad Peacock, he is likely bullpen-bound.

In short, the Astros, in theory, could survive with the starting rotation that they currently have once Keuchel and McHugh return. In light of this development, another addition to the bullpen could be warranted.

No, it should be warranted.

The Astros bullpen entering today have an ERA of 4.15. That is the 15th-best mark in baseball. The day before? A 4.01 ERA, which was the 10th-best in baseball. But the ERA argument is emphasized a bit too much.

In terms of innings pitched, Houston’s bullpen is currently eleventh in baseball at 329.2 innings. It wouldn’t be shocking to see their ranking drop a bit further once the rotation reaches full strength.

You may be thinking that the Astros don’t need to add another reliever. Or a starting pitcher for that matter.

However, it wouldn’t hurt to add another dynamic arm.

More importantly, though, the Astros preferably need one of the left-handed variety.

Currently, the Astros bullpen feature predominately one left-handed reliever, Tony Sipp. If you follow the Astros in any capacity you will know that Sipp hasn’t been the most reliable (4.45 ERA/4.67 FIP).

In turn, Zach Britton and Brad Hand have been mentioned as likely trade candidates. And Houston could use a pitcher like that. Both Britton and Hand have a sub-3.00 ERA and a respectable FIP. One of these guys would surely look good pitching for the Astros in October.

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Prospects, though, could be the sticking point in a potential trade. Call it prospect hoarding or something, but it is the truth. But you can never have enough quality pitching. I will leave it at that.

**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs**