On Tuesday night, the Yankees acquired Zach Britton instead of the Astros. Cue the pandemonium.
The Yankees accomplished two feats by acquiring Britton before the trade deadline: Add another arm with a history of success to an already talented bullpen and keep the former All-Star closer away from Boston and Houston. Unless Britton struggles, the Yankees won a trade by these two points.
But the Astros shouldn’t panic yet. There are still external options (Raisel Iglesias, Adam Conley, Brad Brach, etc) to consider. The same line of thought applies to internal options. And by the time that the postseason occurs, Houston will have to move a starting pitcher into the bullpen. That said, the current closer in the Astros’ bullpen hasn’t disappointed.
Observation #1: Don’t forget about Hector Rondon
When the season started, Ken Giles was figured to be the closer. By early June, he was not the closer any longer. Fast forward to July 11th, and Giles was sent to Triple-A Fresno. During Giles’ descent, Rondon has ascended.
Since his first save of the season on June 6th, Rondon has posted a 1.15 ERA and 1.56 FIP over 15 2/3 innings. While the 11.1% walk rate is a bit high, Rondon has a 36.5% strikeout rate. The results have clearly been good. Sure, Rondon may not appear in every save situation, but he has rewarded the Astros for signing him during the offseason. If he continues with a similar level of performance in August and September, the Astros perceived need for a closer looks smaller and smaller.
Observation #2: Give Kyle Tucker some time
Remember when Alex Bregman started his major league career with a 1-for-34 slump? Yes, sometimes it takes first-time major league players to adjust to the highest level. The same thought applies to Tucker, who is currently 6-for-37 to start his major league career.
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Tucker also had a slow start for the Fresno Grizzlies, Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, to start the 2018 season. In his first 14 games for the Grizzlies, Tucker posted a .232 batting average with four extra base hits. Give the guy some time as there is a reason that general manager Jeff Luhnow refuses to include him in trade talks.
Observation #3: Ken Giles rebounding in Fresno?
As I mentioned earlier, Giles is currently playing for the Grizzlies in the Pacific League. By the numbers, it appears that he has pitched well. It may be too soon to call it a rebound, but steps in the right direction.
Entering Wednesday, Giles had a 2.08 ERA over 4 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. That’s not bad despite the small sample. However, he has also surrendered six total hits, which has contributed to a 1.615 WHIP. Again, this 4 1/3 inning stretch is a small sample, so take these results with a grain or two of salt. Depending on the context of his appearances, the amount of hits and walks he surrenders in each appearance is something to watch. I am sure that the Astros are watching his appearances closely not only from a numbers perspective, but a human emotions lens, too.