Which left-handed reliever should the Astros target?
With Tony Sipp likely to be gone next year, the Astros need a liable left-handed reliever in the bullpen. The club has then talent within their farm system, however, it wouldn’t be a surprise if general manager Jeff Luhnow makes a big time move.
Arguably since the time of Billy Wagner, the Astros have not had a truly dominant left-handed reliever. In the ALCS, we witnessed how good Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rafael Devers did against our bullpen and I think we were one reliever away from going back to the World Series. The Astros have many options if they look to promote someone from within, sign a free agent, or trade for a big time player.
Perez was primarily used as a starter in the minors, but made some relief appearances for the Astros last season. He made eight appearances in the big leagues and had a 3.97 ERA, which isn’t bad for a 22 year-old. Perez is most likely the obvious option if the Astros don’t want to go and get an established reliever. He has had success against lefties and a career 2.80 ERA in the minors. Manager AJ Hinch will have to determine if Perez is better suited out of the bullpen, or as a starter considering Dallas Keuchel is going to be a free-agent. Perez will still have to prove in spring training that he is ready to take the leap to be on the pitching staff full-time.
The Astros missed out on the Britton sweepstakes back in July as he was traded to the Yankees. However, the Astros have a chance to sign Britton, who was one of the best relievers in the game at one point. Britton would be more used as a closer and would easily boost the bullpen. Britton is dominant against left-handers and has held them to a .201 batting average in his career. Britton is already 30 years-old, but still has the ability to help this team in the long run.
Conley is currently with the Marlins and the 28 year-old has primarily been used as a starter. He is under control until 2022, and could be used as a lefty reliever like he was in 2018. He has a 8.8 K/9 ratio last year and features an impressive arsenal in a 96 mph fastball, 86 mph change-up, and mixes in a 89 mph slider. Conley is a high-strikeout player and could be used for more than one inning. This would be a blockbuster trade between the two teams as the Astros might be trying to acquire catcher JT Realmuto as well. It might take a couple of big time prospects to complete this deal however if Jeff Luhnow wants to win another championship this might be the smartest but boldest move he’d have to make.
I understand it’s still early and the 2018 season hasn’t even come to an end but it’s smart to look ahead and analyze what players the Astros will need to compete in 2019. This Astros team is still loaded with talent and is hoping that Kyle Tucker can take the leap next year. Houston doesn’t necessarily have to make a big move, but it might pay off in the long run.