Question #1: How does the dust settle for the postseason bullpen?
Barring a sudden change of heart, the Astros are likely to carry seven-to-eight relievers in the bullpen. At this point, it isn’t abundantly clear whether team management wants to carry an additional catcher, outfielder, or pitcher on the ALDS roster. Without too much effort though, I’ll assume that Roberto Osuna, Hector Rondon, Ryan Pressly, Tony Sipp, Collin McHugh, and Joe Smith earn a spot on the postseason roster. That’s six relievers right there. The remaining one-to-two spots are not easy decisions to make.
That said, there are two names I believe that should be in the mix: Lance McCullers and Josh James. We’re all familiar with McCullers’ exploits out of the bullpen last year (insert 24 straight curveballs comment), and James provided key depth at the right time to the pitching staff. Also, don’t forget Brad Peacock, Chris Devenski, and Will Harris.
While it is clear that not all three pitchers will make the postseason roster at this juncture, McCullers has only made one relief appearance this season. I am curious to see how he does in his next appearance, if he makes another one, which may sway the decision based on the outcome. And James, despite the quality results, is not a shoe-in for the postseason roster. If I had to choose right now, I would bet that either James or Peacock gets the nod if there is an eighth spot in the postseason bullpen. The last spot, in my opinion, likely goes to McCullers.