After all the bullpen concerns in the playoffs last year, Ryan Pressly was brought in the bolster the Astros bullpen.
Yes, the Houston Astros traded for Roberto Osuna to become the closer. Hector Rondon got a few more saves after Osuna’s arrival, but the Astros saw Osuna as the closer for the next few years. Ken Giles just seemed to lose his confidence in the playoffs last year and needed a change of scenery. After losing his cool a couple of times after being removed, his time in Houston was numbered.
While that was the big move, the more underrated move was trading for Ryan Pressly. No, he is not the closer or primary setup man, but he has been a great addition. His presence has helped settle down the bullpen after a rough patch before the deadline. The way manager A.J. Hinch handles the bullpen makes it likely that Pressly could be used in any high leverage situations. He may not get the chances for saves, but he has earned the team’s trust.
Pressly the Astro has been great.
With the Astros, he has been impressive with a 1.23 ERA while striking out 19 batters in 14 2/3 innings. He has yet to walk a batter in an Astros uniform compared to his 19 walks while with the Twins. For the season, Pressly has lowered his ERA to 2.89 from 3.40 before the trade. He has 88 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings. His strikeout rate has dropped a little from 13 k/9 to 11.7 k/9 with the Astros, but he is having better success. All stats are via Baseball-Reference.
Hinch acknowledged Pressly’s success after the game last night, calling him an “under-the-radar addition for us…He just comes in and does his job efficiently.” Not too many people knew about Pressly before the trade because he was on the Twins roster. Like they did when they signed Charlie Morton, the Astros really wanted to trade for Pressly.
The Astros recognized how valuable Pressly was compared to some of the bigger name players such as Zach Britton. According to Statcast, Pressly’s spin rate far exceeds the average MLB pitchers’ rate with a 2,572 rpm. As we saw with Astroball, the Astros are very big in analytics, and it was no surprise that they pursued Pressly.
As David Adler pointed out, Pressly has an A+ spin rate for both his curveball and his fastball. Through Talking Stros last night, I commented how Pressly reminds me of what Giles could have been. Pressly has a plus fastball at 96.7 mph (Giles can throw faster) as well as a slider (90 mph) and curve (83 mph) via Fangraphs. Pressly doesn’t have the history of saves like Giles has, but he can be an imposing pitcher to face in the playoffs.
With all the options for the bullpen, including Lance McCullers, it will be a battle for a reliever to make the playoff roster. Someone like Will Harris or Chris Devenski may be the odd man out with the depth in the bullpen. Pressly is almost guaranteed a spot, and I do believe that they have addressed the bullpen concerns from last year’s playoffs. I’ll take a chance with Pressly over Giles in the playoffs any day of the week.