The Houston Astros have been hit with devastating injuries and departures within their rotation and bullpen in the last two years, and with Framber Valdez out, the team could lean on Bryan Abreu down the stretch. A timetable hasn’t been released for Valdez, but it is a good sign that he won’t be out for a the whole season.
While Luis Garcia could be the leading candidate as the fifth starter for the Opening Day roster with Jake Odorizzi not being fully ready, Abreu might be in the final cuts, but he will be a contributor in 2021. The right-hander had a perfect outing on Monday against the New York Mets with four strikeouts through three innings in a 5-4 win.
How will Abreu contribute for the Astros in 2021?
Although going perfect through three today, Abreu has hit a few regressed outings this spring, as his ERA is north of 6.00 in his two other appearances. The right-hander didn’t make too many strides in the major leagues from 2019 to 2020, but with a 1.50 ERA of through 12 innings of relief, Abreu could be an effective long-reliever this season.
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While carrying five pitches, the right-hander can catch hitters in their shoes with his slider that he uses around 45% of the time per Baseball Savant. The off speed pitcher lives and dies by the strikeout, and after looking healthy coming into camp, Monday’s outing is a good sign he can be reliable down the stretch.
Locational discipline and keeping his off speed pitches close to the zone will help Abreu stay deeper into games, but at the moment, his best bet could be starting it out in the bullpen. Major league hitting is a different breed, and while having minor league options, the right-hander should make strides at the major league level in 2021.
Houston is back on the field on Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals at 5:05 p.m. Although the 40-man roster catcher Garrett Stubbs is fighting for versatility to make the roster, he left Monday’s game after being struck to the head by a ball. Stubbs was wanting to stay in the game, but Dusty Baker had him pulled for concussion protocol.