On Friday, the Houston Astros fell short of the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3, but Andre Scrubb stood out as he battles for the last bullpen spot. Steve Cishek has been a possible replacement for the right-hander on the 26-man roster, but luxury tax issues might lead to the non-roster invite not making the bigs with Houston.
At 26-years-old, Scrubb is control away from being an All-Star pitcher, while his walk rate and high pitch count are holding him back. This could lead to stints in AAA to help progression on the mound for one of the most time consuming pitchers in the game.
Where does Scrubb fit in the Astros’ bullpen?
If the ball club goes the regular eight-man bullpen, then Scrubb will fit in as the last man. The only reason Scrubb wouldn’t make the the Opening Day roster would have to do with the Astros wanting the experienced closer Steve Cishek to start the season.
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While having the most innings pitched for any Houston reliever in 2020, the right-hander’s walk rate was too similar to his strikeout rate. Although having an ERA south of 2.00, Scrubb was loading bases and getting out of jams with a rising pitch count. He may not be the best choice for more than one inning outings, but the right-hander would be dominant while coming in with runners on the base or going one inning.
Pitching coach Brent Strom and Manager Dusty Baker have had nothing but respect and good words for Scrubb. While being seen as a steal from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the right-hander has out done himself in navy blue.
While also factoring Pedro Baez still being out and not pitching, there is a chance he is not fully ramped up by Opening Day. Scrubb could also start at the alternative training site until the AAA season starts, if this doesn’t happen.
This spring, Scrubb has made two appearances, while fanning five batters and only giving up one hit through six innings. While being an off speed pitcher, this leads to long at bats after looking to make hitters miss. Looking at the big picture, the right-hander has the build, pitches and moxie to be the go-to get of a jam pitcher for the Astros.
The Astros are back on the field today against the Washington Nationals with Lance McCullers Jr. going up against Stephen Strasburg. Yordan Alvarez is also in the lineup for the first time since his knee surgeries.