The Astros bullpen returns almost completely in tact.
While the team lost primary set-up man Kendall Graveman and lefty specialist Brooks Raley, the bullpen that rescued them in the 2021 playoffs otherwise returns in tact. They also added Hector Neris to fill the void left by Kendall Graveman so the drop-off talent wise is quite small.
The Astros bullpen was absolutely outstanding in the 2021 post season and you could argue they were just as much the 2021 ALCS MVP as Yordan Alvarez was. In a series where the relievers threw 32.2 innings to cover for the starters who threw a total of 20.1 innings — eight of which came in Framber Valdez’ game five starts.
It’s great to see that the combo of Ryan Pressly, Ryne Stanek, Phil Maton and Cristian Javier will once again be protecting leads alongside the new addition of Neris.
It will be interesting to see what happens if Jake Odorizzi falters and the Astros have to contemplate putting Javier into the rotation where they’ve said they see him long term. But for now Javier is the multi-inning reliever with Maton being the sixth inning guy who can match up with lefties and then Pressly closing it out with Stanek and Neris being the bridge to him.
Overall this solid bullpen will be a huge help considering starters are not fully stretched out so the more reliable one to two inning arms you have in the bullpen the better for this season that got off to a late start. The teams that have less trustworthy bullpens will most likely struggle, at least early on in the year, due to starters being on innings restrictions.