Roberto Osuna is now the Astros’ closer
By Cody Poage
Another announcement about the Astros‘ bullpen on ”bullpen day.”
Acquired in a highly controversial late July trade to bolster the team’s relief corps, the Astros have moved Roberto Osuna into the closer’s role. The former Blue Jay closer will now be the primary one for the Astros following manager AJ Hinch‘s announcement on the MLB Network Radio. In turn, Hector Rondon, the closer since the departure of Ken Giles earlier in the summer, will likely serve in a setup-like role along with the occasional save opportunity.
The announcement of the role change between Osuna and Rondon isn’t a particularly shocking one, unlike his acquisition. It has always felt like that Osuna was going to be named the closer, sooner or later, when he joined the Astros following his domestic violence suspension. Since his debut as an Astro on August 6th in San Francisco, he has thrown only five innings while surrendering one earned run. He has also allowed one walk compared to three strikeouts. The fact that Rondon has two blown saves in his last three appearances likely prompted, at least partially, the role change.
From a public relations perspective, I’d fully expect continued backlash in the coming weeks when you consider the seriousness of Osuna’s off-the-field legal matters. This situation isn’t going away anytime soon for Osuna or the Astros.
From a numbers standpoint, the role change makes sense. Prior to the 2018 season, Osuna had a 2.86 ERA and a 2.69 FIP across 207 2/3 major league innings for Toronto. The age-23 right-hander has accumulated 104 saves for his major league career.
Compared to one calendar year ago, the Astros’ bullpen has undergone an interesting transformation. Osuna has replaced Giles as the closer while Rondon, Joe Smith, and Ryan Pressly have provided valuable depth from outside the organization along with the team’s incumbent relievers. Minus Monday’s result, Collin McHugh has been a key cog in the bullpen while Tony Sipp has experienced a bounce back season. Brad Peacock, Chris Devenski, and Will Harris are also quality arms who can be used in a variety of ways. Fresh from the minors, Cionel Perez has shown flashes of being a quality pitcher at the major league level.
This relief unit is going to be an interesting one to watch as the season enters the final stretch. I also have a feeling that its performance will hold considerable sway on how the Astros finish the season.