The Jury’s Still Out
So much relies on the health and effectiveness of Ryan Pressly. He’s nearing a return from knee surgery, and if he’s the Pressly we saw in the season’s first half, the bullpen should be fine. But there’s no guarantee of that, so the Astros will have to wait and see how he looks upon his return.
The same applies to Peacock, who’s been dealing with a shoulder issue since late June. In a best case scenario, Miley reverts to his old self and a healthy Peacock and Pressly join the bullpen. The team’s pitching staff would be stellar if that were to happen, but again, there are no guarantees.
All of a sudden, the idea of Jose Urquidy being on the playoff roster isn’t so far-fetched. The right-hander just struck out 10 batters in five innings of one-hit, one-run ball on Wednesday. It’s possible he’d be needed as a starter if Miley can’t rebound and Peacock isn’t ready, but he could also be deployed as a strike-throwing, multi-inning bullpen weapon too. How he looks the rest of the season will be key.
Framber Valdez isn’t likely to be a popular choice among fans, but considering he’s the only left-hander on this list, it’s worth examining. He seems to have exhausted his opportunities as a starter, but he did pitch well out of the bullpen earlier this season. If the Astros use him in that role down the stretch as a sort of audition, it’s possible he could turn out to be useful.