Examining the Astros overtaxed bullpen situation

DENVER, COLORADO - JULY 03: Pitcher Roberto Osuna #54 of the Houston Astros throws in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 03, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - JULY 03: Pitcher Roberto Osuna #54 of the Houston Astros throws in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 03, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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The Astros bullpen has been battered lately, but how much trouble is this group really in?

To say the Astros pitching staff has underperformed recently would be putting things mildly. Much has been said and written about the starting rotation’s woes, as the Astros are in clear need of another reliable starting pitcher.

But the bullpen, once a clear strength, has taken its lumps lately as well. Part of that can be traced to the rotation, as an increasing number of short, poor starts has put more strain on the pen. A couple of long outings by Cy Sneed have helped, but the guys in the bullpen are a little overtaxed right now.

Things aren’t getting any better on that front with the news of Brad Peacock’s setback. With Framber Valdez starting on Monday and a possible bullpen day on Tuesday, the bullpen may get worse before it gets better.

Also, it’s fair to note that a few of these pitchers were performing to otherworldly levels earlier in the season, so some natural regression was inevitable. There’s a reason guys don’t finish full seasons with a 0.50 ERA in the major leagues. You may have a good stretch where you pitch like that, but sooner or later the hitters catch up.

With the July trade deadline coming up, now is a good time to examine the state of the bullpen to get a good idea of where the team stands. Is this group going to be enough to help the Astros win another championship, or should Jeff Luhnow go shopping for a reliever too?

For the purposes of this exercise, I’m breaking the team’s bullpen up into three groups — the back end, middle relief, and the mop-up guys.

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