Astros: The bullpen has issues without reinforcements

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 10: Ken Giles
HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 10: Ken Giles /

The Astros starters need to go deeper into to take the stress off the bullpen.

The Astros bullpen has issues, but what team doesn’t? Maybe the Yankees after adding David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle in a trade from the White Sox. Added to the duo of Aroldis Chapman and Delin Betances, they could be dynamic in the playoffs should they make it.

Any bullpen can have a bad day. Even Mariano Rivera blew a save every once in a while. Rivera had 46 recorded blown saves in his career. They only started recording that category in 2002. This Astros bullpen can be better when it is not being used as much.

Stress on the bullpen.

During an interview with Matt Thomas on SportsTalk 790 yesterday, Jeff Luhnow said, “the guys are getting worn down at this time of year…You have stress on the bullpen for coming into pitch more innings, as they have for two months.”

He expects most of the players on the DL to be healthy come September. They have a big lead, so they can take their time with getting people healthy. “We want to get everyone 100%.”

The new guy.

When September arrives, they can add extra arms to help lighten the load. The Astros had hoped to add a few extra arms at the trade deadline. Unfortunately, they only added Francisco Liriano. But apparently, Liriano was the main target for Luhnow.

Luhnow said this, “we didn’t get Liriano to win games in August or eat up innings in September. We got him to be an experienced left-hander out of the bullpen to win in October.”

As I wrote earlier in the week, it will take time for Liriano to learn how to be an effective reliever. He did it early in his career, so it’s too early to judge his performed now. Luhnow did acknowledge that it could be a success or a failure, it’s too early to decide.

So outside of Liriano’s two losses in his first two appearances with the Astros, how has the rest of the bullpen fared? They are without Will Harris, Michael Feliz, and Tony Sipp at the moment with Brad Peacock still in the rotation.

Has the bullpen been as bad as people feel like it had recently?

In June and July, the Astros bullpen had a 5.14 and 6.12 ERA. The bullpen has struggled but is off to a strong start in August. It’s only been six games, but the bullpen has a 1-2 record with a 1.45 ERA while striking out 22 hitters in 18 2/3 innings. Overall in August, the Astros are 2-4, but the bullpen isn’t the problem.

I know that’s a small sample size, but it would seem that Joe Musgrove has helped stabilize the bullpen. He is filling the role of long reliever that Peacock did earlier in the year. Musgrove pitching three innings after Dallas Keuchel went five was huge the other day. This allows Peacock to remain in the rotation for now.

"“Ideally, you want to put every reliever in a situation for them to succeed. When your relief corp gets strapped because your starters aren’t going deep, other pitchers have to step up and pitch more innings and in different situations.” – Luhnow."

Unsung heroes.

Of all the pitchers he talked about, Luhnow was interested in getting more out of Reymin Guduan and James Hoyt. He mentioned that these two could be big assets in the playoffs. They are trying to get them in more high leverage situations.

Fans are worried about Chris Devenski‘s recent struggles. Luke Gregerson was the victim of a bad turn by Jake Marisnick for a two run double. Ken Giles is one of the top closers in baseball. Francis Martes is getting his feet wet as a reliever but has been good and bad in his limited time.

Next: Astros not likely to trade for Justin Verlander

While Luhnow sounded like he would have wanted to add an arm at the deadline, he’s happy with what he’s got. Hopefully, the bullpen will get some rest in September. Luhnow also said that they are hoping to make an August trade. But it’s hard to make waiver trades with having the best record in the AL.

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***