The Astros, like all contenders, can use another reliever or two for the upcoming postseason push.
Look, the Astros have one of the best bullpens in baseball. Numbers don’t lie.
- 2.94 ERA
- 2.82 FIP
- 3.2 fWAR
- 28.8% K Rate
- 6.5% BB Rate
That said, the Astros’ bullpen has been relatively untrustworthy in high leverage situations. FanGraphs has a Clutch rating, where you can find a thorough explanation here. By the Clutch rating, the Astros’ bullpen at -2.02 is the worst in baseball.
The next closest team by Clutch?
The Tigers at -1.25.
Now, Clutch is only one metric. I would recommend that you check out other numbers and situations to draw your own conclusions. For the sake of brevity, I won’t delve too much deeper into this aspect of the Astros’ bullpen.
And, no, blown saves are not a quality way to measure a reliever’s performance. Like the pitcher win, it is basically devoid of any true analytic substance. If you want to complain about the Astros’ blown saves, check out the leaderboard here. There is some truth to the statement that each fanbase considers their team’s bullpen to be worse than everybody else’s.
I’ve also come to find over the years that the eye test is a good compliment for numbers. And the Astros do seem to struggle in high leverage situations, or anytime Ken Giles steps into a non-save situation. Baseball can be weird.
By analyzing the numbers and by the eye test, it is reasonable to conclude that another reliever or two would be beneficial for the Astros. Especially if Joe Smith‘s right elbow turns out to be a more fragile than your great-grandmother’s antique collection. And let’s face it that each team probably wants another reliever or two anyway.
So, in theory, the Astros should look into available relievers. And there are three that I would check in upon before anyone else.