Astros: Losing Joe Musgrove leaves a hole in the bullpen
By Eric Huysman
The Houston Astros will miss Joe Musgrove in the bullpen and as a person.
Now that we have let the Gerrit Cole trade sink in a little bit let’s look at the ramifications. Cole will make this rotation one of legends, but did it hurt the bullpen? While no one expected Joe Musgrove to be that dependable reliever at the back of the bullpen, he became that after struggling in the rotation. With him included in the trade, the Astros have a hole to fill, but should be in good shape.
Musgrove was one of those players you root for because he is a likable guy. Despite battling many injuries in the minor leagues, he was of those lower level finds for the Astros. Musgrove was acquired in the J.A. Happ trade from the Blue Jays.
He made his debut in 2016 with an appearance out of the bullpen where he dominated. It was August 2 against the Blue Jays, Musgrove came in the game in relief of Lance McCullers. There were two outs when Hinch pulled McCullers in the fifth inning trailing 2-0. Musgrove pitched the remaining 4 1/3 innings allowing one hit and striking out eight hitters.
The rocky road as a starter to this point.
Astros fans hoped that it was a preview of what was to come with Musgrove as a starter. That was Musgrove’s only appearance that season as a reliever. In 10 starts, he went 4-4 with a 4.37 ERA. Musgrove earned a spot in the 2017 rotation in spring training. His future is a starter, but…
He saved the Astros last year in the bullpen. Musgrove started as the low-pressure multi-inning type of reliever, but he earned the trust of A.J. Hinch. With his all-around passion, he won over fans as well. He made himself open to the public and joined us several times on Talking Stros. His mom also made herself know in AstrosTwitter and was full of pride with her son.
Last season, Musgrove got off to a 4-8 start with a 6.12 ERA in 15 games as a starter. Instead of sending him down for an extended period, Hinch switched him to a reliever when the rotation got healthy. Musgrove took the move as a challenge to fix his mechanics, and boy did he take off. He gave up 16 homers as a starter, but only two as a reliever.
Because he wasn’t saving himself to go deep into games, he was able to add some velocity to his pitches. As a reliever, Musgrove went 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings. When Will Harris was out, Musgrove became that shutdown guy in the bullpen.
He earned Hinch’s trust and will be remembered in Houston.
While he wasn’t always reliable in the playoffs, Hinch did feel confident in him pitching in seven games. He finished with an 8.10 ERA in the postseason but will be forever remembered for what he did in Game 5 of the World Series.
While both offenses exploded for 13 and 12 runs respectively, Musgrove was the one who shut the Dodgers down to end the game. In a game that will go down in the best games ever in the World Series, Musgrove got the win. The rest is history.
Next: Astros: A conspiracy theory how Jay Bruce changed the Gerrit Cole trade
Musgrove will probably go back to the rotation with the Pirates. Here is wishing that he excels in that role and has a great career. He is one player who will NEVER be booed in Houston for being a class act. He also wrote a heartful letter to Astros fans. While we will miss him, having Cole in the rotation is excellent. Good luck Joe and thanks for your time with interviews.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***