Paging Mr. Smith in the Astros bullpen.
It was no secret that the Houston Astros sought out a high leverage reliever this offseason. While everyone would like to add someone like Wade Davis or Greg Holland, but they may cost more than other options. The Astros still have faith in Ken Giles, even after a rough postseason performance. Davis or Holland would want to be the closer.
Giles performed well during the regular season but struggled when asked to pitch more than one inning in the playoffs. As we saw with Luke Gregerson, bringing in another closer candidate doesn’t always work out. Speaking of Gregerson, he pitched well in his limited appearances in the playoffs. Gregerson has since moved onto the Cardinals.
A different look.
The Astros like to have relievers who gives hitters different looks, which is why they added Pat Neshek before the 2015 season. While he didn’t have the best stats with the Astros, they missed him last year. Having Neshek’s sidearm delivery can change the hitters perspective at the plate. They didn’t want Neshek, but someone like Neshek.
Yesterday, for a brief time, we thought the Astros were about to sign Tommy Hunter. Instead, he joined Neshek in Philidelphia. The top options were dwindling for the Astros, and they were rumored to make a deal. Another name that my Talking Stros co-host Brandon discussed was Brandon Kinzler. While he had the closing experience, he didn’t wow me.
Now that the Yankees have added Giancarlo Stanton. One knock against Davis is that he has struggled versus the Yankees top three hitters in his career. You know who hasn’t struggled versus the top three Yankees hitters, reliever Joe Smith. For his career, Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez are 0-13 with seven strikeouts.
We have a reliever!
Jeff Luhnow has hinted that they were on the verge of signing a reliever. According to Brian McTaggart, the Astros signed Smith to a two-year deal. Smith spent last season between the Blue Jays and Indians. He has a career 44-28 record with a 2.97 with 547 strikeouts in 624 2/3 innings.
Last season he had a 3-0 record with a 3.33 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 54 innings. Is that strikeout rate legit? While with the Blue Jays, Smith had A career-high 12.9 strikeout per nine innings. That rate decreased down a little with the Indians, finishing with an 11.8 rate for the season. That is higher than his average 7.9 k/9 rate in his ten-year career.
Like Neshek, Smith throws sidearm. Also, he’s not a flamethrower, averaging 88.9 mph on his fastball. He complements that with a slider, which had become a trademark of Astros pitching. Smith will become oone of the fixtures at the back of the bullpen.
Smith’s role on the team.
Joe Musgrove or Chris Devenski could be the setup guys to Giles. Musgrove moved to the bullpen like a boss last year. If he continues to dominate, he could make a nice career out of it. Smith gives them another option, too bad he’s not left-handed.
At the time of writing, there is no word of the financial numbers. McTaggart hinted that the Astros offered another pitcher a two-year deal worth $12 million. That pitcher signed elsewhere but could be a decent guess. Welcome to Houston Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Updated: According to Bob Nightengale, he will make $14 million.
***Stats from Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference***