Houston Astros: A scoreless road trip for the bullpen
By Eric Huysman
The Houston Astros bullpen had a great road trip.
Around the trade deadline, the Houston Astros bullpen was struggling. Your first thought might be to blame it on Ken Giles, but he was in Triple-A. When the Astros traded for Ryan Pressly, the bullpen was hemorrhaging runs in the ninth inning. This bullpen has had the lowest team ERA all season in the AL, so maybe they just hit a rough patch. They still lead the AL with a 3.03 ERA, according to ESPN.
With Lance McCullers’ injury, the bullpen has one extra arm in Cionel Perez. When the Astros need a fifth starter, he will most likely be sent down to Triple-A. This bullpen appears to be at almost full strength, even with Chris Devenski on the disabled list. On paper, this bullpen should be tough down the stretch, but they have been elite over the last eight games.
The bullpen is on fire.
Once they left Minute Maid Park for the road trip, something clicked with this bullpen. The relievers have been a big reason the team went 6-2 on that road trip, despite missing some offensive firepower. The relievers have not allowed any runs in 20 2/3 innings pitched via Richard Justice. On the road trip, they had a 3-0 record while striking out 27 batters in those 20 2/3 innings.
While many people think that Roberto Osuna will eventually be the closer, Hector Rondon has shown that he can do it as well. Collin McHugh continues to dazzle, and Pressly looks like the real deal. Tony Sipp has found his 2015 form, and Brad Peacock and Will Harris are reliable. Perez looks like he has a bright future as a left-handed reliever.
Let’s take a look at what each reliever has done on the road trip, stats via Baseball-Reference.
There was no specific order for that list, but it shows what they have done for you recently. Sure, the Giants are not a playoff caliber team, but the Mariners and Dodgers are. When you win a game 12-0 after McCullers only pitched four innings, that is impressive. The relievers held one-run deficits in the two games versus the Giants, and the offense came back to win the game.
Hopefully, the bullpen efficiency continues into Houston versus the Mariners again this weekend. Looking at those stats up above, Hinch has to feel pretty confident bringing anyone in. The Cubs trash in Rondon has become a treasure for the Astros. Will he hold onto the closer role? We shall see, but we all know that Hinch likes the matchups to determine who comes in depending on the situation.