The Astros are redefining the reliever role with dominant multi-innings pitching from Devenski, Musgrove, and Peacock.
It was a big day for Houston Astros fans as Justin Verlander made his first start for his new team Tuesday night. It wasn’t quite as dominating as Randy Johnson‘s debut with the Astros. Verlander kept the team in the game until the Astros got their first hit off a Mariners pitcher. Cameron Maybin hit his second homer with the Astros, all of his hits have been big so far.
While Verlander’s debut for Houston was big, the most notable performances were those pitchers who followed him. Even though the Mariners are probably not a playoff team this year, it felt like a playoff atmosphere. With Ariel Miranda effectively wild and not allowing any hits, it was must watch TV. But Joe Musgrove and Ken Giles stole the show.
The Musgrove show.
Kyle Seager scored the only run on a massive homer off Verlander, but the Mariners did not score another run in the game. Verlander lasted six innings, then Musgrove came in and pitched two scoreless innings only allowing one hit. Musgrove has earned the trust of manager A.J. Hinch with his performance recently. This could also be a preview of what’s to come in the playoffs.
Musgrove can throw strikes with more velocity out of the bullpen. He can also pitch multiple innings, bridging the gap to the back of the bullpen. Outside of Giles and Chris Devenski, there is not another reliever that I have more confidence in than Musgrove. Before I go on praising Musgrove, Giles was on his game in the ninth inning striking out the side for his 29th save. Giles only threw ten pitches, ponder that.
Better as a reliever.
Musgrove was 4-8 as a starter this year with a 6.12 ERA in 15 starts. He also allowed 16 homers in those 15 starts, but only one as a reliever. Since being moved to the bullpen, he has lowered his ERA to 4.91. He has done that with a 3-0 record while striking out 23 hitters and 24 2/3 innings.
With arms like Devenski, Musgrove, and Peacock (will get a few more starts in September) in the bullpen, the game is shortened. Devenski pitched two scoreless innings last night as well to earn the win.
Remember how dominant Andrew Miller was during the playoffs in 2016, the Astros could have three similar relievers. The Astros are redefining the bullpen role from the one-inning guy. This could get exciting in the playoffs, this is starting to look like a team that can go far.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***