Astros News

Astros: Inconsistent closers since Pujols home run

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 26: Relief pitcher Brad Lidge #54 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the eighth inning of Game Four of the 2005 Major League Baseball World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 26, 2005 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - OCTOBER 26: Relief pitcher Brad Lidge #54 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the eighth inning of Game Four of the 2005 Major League Baseball World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 26, 2005 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
5 of 5
Next
Astros
HOUSTON, TX – JULY 10: Manager AJ Hinch #14 of the Houston Astros takes the ball from Ken Giles #53 in the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on July 10, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Return to Contention

Though the Astros have posted winning records in each of the past five seasons and have made the playoffs in four of those, one thing to note is the lack of a consistent closer in that time frame. It’s something the team continues to struggle with today.

Part of what got the Astros to the playoffs in 2015 was a revamped bullpen led by veteran Luke Gregerson. He was largely effective and served as the closer in his first season, saving 31 games with a 3.10 ERA in 64 appearances.

Prior to the 2016 season, the Astros sent former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel and three others to Philadelphia for Ken Giles. His first season in Houston was up and down, and he and Gregerson split the closing duties along with Will Harris. Neither player posted more than 15 saves that year.

More from Climbing Tal's Hill

Giles’ 2017 season was much better as the Astros captured their first World Series title. He saved 34 games with a 2.30 ERA, dramatically reducing his hit and home run rates. But 2018 was a different story as he posted a 4.99 ERA with 12 saves before being shipped off to Toronto in exchange for Roberto Osuna.

Hector Rondon actually led the Astros in saves in 2018 with 15, while Osuna chipped in 12 with a 1.99 ERA down the stretch. The idea in acquiring an established closer like Osuna was to solve the continuity issues the team had since Valverde’s departure, and in that respect they succeeded.

But Osuna is a lightning rod and probably always will be thanks to his off-field issues. On the field, he posted a 2.63 ERA in 2019 and led the league with 38 saves. He also led the majors in games finished, though his first half (1.95 ERA) was better than his second half (3.54 ERA).

Osuna’s postseason performance with the Astros has been less than ideal. He got rocked in the 2018 ALCS, and he was scored upon in all three postseason series in 2019. Until he can improve upon that, he will always be viewed as at least one step below the Wagner/peak Lidge combination.

Next. Astros options with both catchers free agents. dark

Still, if the Astros are able to retain Osuna for at least a few more years, he can provide relative stability to a role that hasn’t had any in quite some time. Time will tell if he can pitch well enough to join them as one of the best closers in club history.

facebooktwitterreddit