Astros: Kendall Graveman fills crucial high-leverage need

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Houston Astros acquired right handed reliever Kendall Graveman from the Seattle Mariners along with Rafael Montero Tuesday in exchange for Abraham Toro and Joe Smith.

Toro definitely has had his moments and Smith is the consummate professional, albeit one that hasn’t performed particularly well this season, as Smith himself has admitted, but this is a deal you make every single time. Graveman, who will be a free agent after the season, was the centerpiece and It’s easy to see why the consensus is the Astros got the better end of this deal.

The Astros got the much needed leverage in Kendall Graveman.

Ryan Pressly will retain the closer role per Dusty Baker, leaving Graveman as the setup man the Astros have been missing all season. The Astros are getting a known commodity in Graveman who largely throws 3 pitches: a power sinker (60.5% of pitches) that averages 96.5 MPH, a slider (19.8%) and a changeup (10.9%).

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Graveman also throws a four seam fastball 5.8% of the time. Opponents are batting .113 and slugging .113 off the sinker, while batting .125 and slugging .219 off the slider. Graveman has 10 saves in 12 opportunities in Seattle, the first 10 saves of his career, though it should be noted he’s been a starter most of his career.

If you’re an advanced stats kind of person, Graveman is a dream.  Besides the batting averages above, he comes to the Astros with an ERA+ of 508, WHIP of 0.697 and FIP of 2.88 for the 2021 season. Graveman has been particularly tough on right handers, with a 0.00 ERA in 20 innings pitched across 67 batters.

Of particular interest to Astro fans may be these two numbers: Leadoff hitters are 1 for 31 against Graveman with 10 strikeouts and 2 walks. In addition, in late/close situations Graveman has a 0.52 ERA across 17 ⅓ innings, striking out 19 of the 60 batters faced.

Next. What does the Astros’ bench look like with Abraham Toro gone?. dark

Graveman is relatively new to this relieving thing, but if you’re able to acquire a veteran pitcher that gets the first guy he sees out and gives up less than half a hit per inning you take that deal and James Click did. It’s no secret that the Astros bullpen has not performed consistently well outside of Pressly and this move strengthens a problem area for a team that has bigger aspirations than an AL West title.