Astros: Roberto Osuna may not be ready for season opener
The Houston Astros could be without closer Roberto Osuna to start the season.
The Houston Astros bullpen is in pretty rough shape. They lost Will Harris to free agency and Joe Smith is on the Restricted List, and setup man Ryan Pressly is dealing with a finger blister. Now there’s serious doubt that closer Roberto Osuna will be ready to begin the season.
Osuna has yet to throw to live batters in camp, but apparently he’s been regularly throwing long toss. There’s no word from the team on why Osuna hasn’t faced any hitters, so we have no idea if it’s injury related or if he just showed up to camp needing more time to get ready.
Regardless, being without their closer will be tough on the Astros. Osuna led the AL with 38 saves last season to go along with a 2.63 ERA and 0.877 WHIP. He wasn’t as sharp in the second half or in the postseason after a dominant first half, but he’s one of the few proven All-Star caliber relievers the team has left.
How the Astros Can Manage
Pressly is scheduled to throw in today’s intrasquad game, so it looks like he should be ready to begin the season, barring further issues. That would make him the de facto closer, as a Houston bullpen without Osuna and Smith leaves Pressly as the only one who could be trusted to shut the door.
They have a couple of veterans in Chris Devenski and Joe Biagini who’ll be in the bullpen, but it remains to be seen how much manager Dusty Baker can trust them. Devenski has had two straight rough seasons and Biagini was lit up after coming to Houston in a trade deadline deal. The potential is here, but we don’t know what we’re going to get from either one of them.
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With Brad Peacock and Austin Pruitt still sidelined, Baker will have to lean on some young arms. Bryan Abreu and Cy Sneed will be candidates for important innings, with Abreu possibly becoming a bridge/setup guy and Sneed being able to go multiple innings if needed. Beyond that, the team will be relying on some even less experienced guys.
Right-hander Jojanse Torres, whose fastball can touch triple digits, could be an option. He struck out Josh Reddick and Alex Bregman in Friday’s intrasquad game and went 12-0 with a 1.71 ERA between two Class-A levels last year.
Enoli Paredes struck out four, including Carlos Correa and George Springer, on Friday and can also hit the upper 90s. Brett Conine pitched a couple of innings and gave up one run but also struck out Bregman. And we can’t forget lefty Blake Taylor, who seems like a good bet to make the bullpen at this point.
There’s plenty of talent here, but most of it is unproven at the major league level. If one or two of these electric young arms can cut down on the walks, they could give the team’s bullpen a nice boost. The Astros will have to hope that happens as they wait to see what kind of progress Osuna makes.